A financial assessment of two alternative cultivation systems and their contributions to algae biofuel economic viability

James W. Richardson, Myriah D. Johnson, Xuezhi Zhang, Peter Zemke, Wei Chen, Qiang Hu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

109 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Farm-level Algae Risk Model (FARM) is used to simulate the economic feasibility and probabilistic cost of biomass and bio-crude oil production for two projected algae farms. The two farms differ in their cultivation system: an open raceway pond (ORP) and a photobioreactor (PBR). The economic analysis incorporates production, price, and financial risks the farms will likely face over a 10-year period. Current technology for both cultivation systems is assumed with an emphasis on the differences in biomass production, lipid content, culture crashes, and dewatering and extraction costs. Results of the analysis indicated that with current prices and technology neither cultivation system offers a reasonable probability of economic success. The total costs of production for crude bio-oil is 109$gal-1±45 x-σ for an ORP and 77gal-1±25 x-σ for a PBR. Further analysis revealed that for every 1% increase in biomass production annual net cash income is increased 0.21% for an ORP and 0.10% for a PBR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
JournalAlgal Research
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Keywords

  • Cost of production
  • Farm-level algae model (FARM)
  • Monte Carlo simulation
  • Net cash income
  • Open raceway ponds
  • Photobioreactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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