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Evaluation of selected integrated value chains and life cycle assessment of microalgae cultivation

This action is aimed at the implementation of a techno-economic and sustainability assessment of a multi-product integrated biorefinery for microalgae.

Initial evaluation of benchmark value chains

In recent months, mass and energy balances have been calculated for selected benchmark value chains. Lab-scale results from the project have been transferred to a large scale using engineering rules. Standard techniques have been used for non-polar lipids, proteins and sugars, while the extraction train developed by CSIC is aimed at lipid- and pigment-rich fractions.

Key findings are:

  • Heat consumption is especially high for the CO2 adsorption, drying and extraction train, while most electricity is consumed by the circulation system in the tubular PBR.
  • Material demand seems to be especially highforthe extraction train in comparison with the other process units and chains.
  • There is high potential to recycle water.We suggest quantifying the economic and environmental impacts to evaluate the overall chain performance.

Life cycle assessment – scenario analysis of microalgae cultivation

LCA results have been calculated based on the production system of Spanish partner Fitoplancton Marino, including all steps from pre-cultivation to freeze drying. Different scenarios have been investigated and compared to the base scenario: a shift from the standard Spanish energy mix to wind energy, a newer circulation system, and yield variations. An environmental hotspot is the current circulation system and related energy consumption. Development options are: to lower electricity consumption (already implemented), to use a flow-emission electricity supply and to increase yield and stabilise it at a high level.

Business plan – new conceptual developments

In order to generate business cases as well as the business plan, a focus table has been developed. Business cases will be selected according to their competitive performance and market attractiveness. The stakeholder message will be evaluated at different levels per stakeholder group. Product properties, user demand, the level to which these two aspects coincide, benefits and estimated market size will be described in the near future for specific business cases.

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