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Pathways of processing of wet microalgae for liquid fuel production: A critical review

Chaudry, S., Bahri, P.A. and Moheimani, N.R. (2015) Pathways of processing of wet microalgae for liquid fuel production: A critical review. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 52 . pp. 1240-1250.

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Microalgae have tremendous potential for producing liquid renewable fuel. Many methods for converting microalgae to biofuel have been proposed; however, an economical and energetically feasible route for algal fuel production is yet to be found. This paper presents a review on the comparison of the most promising conversion pathways of microalgae to liquid fuel: hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), wet extraction and non-destructive extraction. The comparison is based on important assessment parameters of product quality and yield, nutrient recovery, GHG emissions, energy and the cost associated with the production of fuel from microalgae, in order to better understand the pros and cons of each method. It was found that the HTL pathway produces more oil than the wet extraction pathway; however, higher concentrations of unwanted components are present in the HTL oil produced. Less nutrients (N and P) can be recovered in HTL compared to wet extraction. HTL consumes more fossil energy and generates higher GHG emissions than wet extraction, while the production cost of fuel from HTL pathway is lower than wet extraction pathway. There is considerable uncertainty in the comparison of the energy consumption and economics of the HTL pathway and the wet extraction pathway due to different scenarios analysed in the assessment studies. To be able to appropriately compare methodologies, the conversion methods should be analysed from growth to upgradation of oil utilising sufficiently similar assumptions and scenarios. Based on the data in available literature, wet oil extraction is the more appropriate system for biofuel production than HTL. However, the potential of alternative extraction/conversion technologies, such as, non-destructive extraction, need to be further assessed.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Engineering and Information Technology
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Copyright: © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.
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