Technical Report 119, c4e-Preprint Series, Cambridge

Techno-economic assessment of carbon-negative algal biodiesel for transport solutions

ref: Technical Report 119, c4e-Preprint Series, Cambridge


This paper presents a techno-economic analysis of carbon-negative algal biodiesel production routes that use currently available technologies. The production process includes the following stages: carbon-neutral renewable electricity generation for powering the plant, algal growth in photobioreactors, algae dewatering and lipid extraction, and biofuel conversion and refining. As carbon dioxide is consumed in the algal growth process, side products are not burned (with CO2 release), and the energy supplied to the entire production process is obtained from concentrated solar power, the whole system is assumed carbon footprint negative. Under assumptions related to economics of scale, the techno-economic model is extended to account for varying industrial scales of production. Verified data from a selection of commercially available technologies are used as inputs for the model, and the economic viability of the various production routes is assessed. From the various routes investigated, one scheme involving combined gasification and Fischer-Tropsch of algal solids to produce biodiesel along with conversion of algal lipids into biodiesel through transesterification was found to be promising. Assuming a typical economic scaling factor of 0.8, an algal biodiesel process with an annual production rate of 100 Mt/year is identified to achieve a biodiesel price comparable to the current conventional diesel price with a discounted break-even time of 6 years.

Material from this preprint has been published in: Applied Energy 106, 262-274, (2013)


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