Evaluation of selected integral value chains and life cycle assessment of microalgae cultivation
Aiming at the implementation of a techno-economic and sustainability assessment of a multi-product integrated biorefinery for microalgae.
Being half-way through the project, the definition of specific value chains and scenarios is the major aim in this phase. Huge progress was made in defining the exact routes of the downstream processing and to identify hot spots in the innovative process technologies. Five value chains were defined for the techno-economic evaluation and the LCA aiming at production of (1) whole cells, (2) broken cells, (3) soluble proteins, (4) pigments and (5) TAGs.
The calculation of mass and energy balances is ongoing. Lab-scale results from the project are translated to large-scale by engineering rules Where applicable, scenarios such as avoiding a drying step (paste) or considering the production of stressed biomass will be investigated to first: evaluate cost aspects and second: to reduce the environmental impact by saving energy for the drying process. First results indicate that potential savings within the process chains are very promising and impacts from a life cycle and cost perspective will be further investigated.
The shift from a horizontal tubular PBR to an innovative cultivation system promises further reductions of costs and environmental impacts and will be included in the model in the coming months. Based on the process integration, cost calculations and life cycle assessment has started. First results will be available by the end of the year.
Additionally, a study to assess the consumer acceptance of algae biomass for different applications is in preparation. The goal is to identify the image as well as USPs for algae-based products to support the positioning of algae in the market.