Air-water fluxes of N₂O and CH₄ during microalgae (Staurosira sp.) cultivation in an open raceway pond.
The industrial-scale production of biofuels from cultivated microalgae has gained considerable interest in the last several decades. While the climate benefits of microalgae cultivation that result from the capture of atmospheric CO(2) are known, the counteracting effect from the potential emission of other greenhouse gases has not been well quantified. Here, we report the results of a study conducted at an industrial pilot facility in Hawaii to determine the air-water fluxes of N(2)O and CH(4) from open raceway ponds used to grow the marine diatom Staurosira sp. as a feedstock for biofuel. Dissolved O(2), CH(4), and N(2)O concentrations were measured over a 24 h cycle. During this time, four SF(6) tracer release experiments were conducted to quantify gas transfer velocities in the ponds, and these were then used to calculate air-water fluxes. Our results show that pond waters were consistently supersaturated with CH(4) (up to 725%) resulting in an average emission of 19.9 ± 5.6 μmol CH(4) m(-2) d(-1). Upon NO(3)(-) depletion, the pond shifted from being a source to being a sink of N(2)O, with an overall net uptake during the experimental period of 3.4 ± 3.5 μmol N(2)O m(-2) d(-1). The air-water fluxes of N(2)O and CH(4) expressed as CO(2) equivalents of global warming potential were 2 orders of magnitude smaller than the overall CO(2) uptake by the microalgae.
Ferrón, S; Ho, DT; Johnson, ZI; Huntley, ME
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