Techno-economic and life-cycle assessment of fuel production from mixotrophic Galdieria sulphuraria microalgae on hydrolysate

Michael D. Somers, Peter Chen, Jennifer Clippinger, Jesse R. Cruce, Ryan Davis, Peter J. Lammers, Jason C. Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Outdoor photoautotrophic algal growth is limited by light attenuation and attendant respiratory CO2 losses during dark periods, limiting its productivity potential and carbon use efficiency. Developing a system that leverages mixotrophic growth (combining the benefits of both heterotrophic and photoautotrophic growth) has the potential to dramatically improve the total productivity and economics of the system. However, it is unknown if the productivity gains offset the added costs of outdoor mixotrophic cultivation using cellulosic hydrolysate as the feedstock. In this study, corn stover-derived cellulosic sugars were evaluated as the mixotrophic organic carbon source for the cultivation of Galdieria sulphuraria, which can metabolize both glucose and xylose from corn stover hydrolysate. A techno-economic analysis (TEA) and a life-cycle assessment (LCA) were conducted based on a detailed engineering process model for both glass helical photobioreactor and covered pond cultivation platforms, coupled with downstream conversion and upgrading to renewable diesel through hydrothermal liquefaction. Results show the minimum biomass selling price for cultivation in the photobioreactor design assuming a productivity of 1.575 kg m−3 day−1 and a substrate yield of 0.57 g g−1 is $2869 per dry metric ton. The costs are dramatically reduced in the covered pond design which assumes a productivity of 0.8 kg m−3 day−1 and a substrate yield of 0.7 g g−1, $921 per dry metric ton. Expanding the system boundary to include downstream processing results in a minimum fuel selling price of $8.24 and $3.32 dm3GE−1 for the photobioreactor and covered pond systems, respectively. Finally, life-cycle results demonstrate a global warming potential of 339 and 9.1 gCO2-eq. MJ−1 on a well-to-wheels basis and a net energy ratio of 2.21 and 0.25 MJ MJ−1 for the photobioreactor and covered pond systems, respectively. Discussion focuses on a required co-product selling price as a function of biomass diversion to meet economic parity with conventional fuels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102419
JournalAlgal Research
Volume59
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Keywords

  • Co-products
  • Covered raceway pond
  • Economics
  • Environmental impact
  • Mixotrophic
  • Photobioreactor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science

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