A Systematic Multicriteria-Based Approach to Support Product Portfolio Selection in Microalgae Biorefineries: Article No. 148462

Bruno Klein, Mateus Chagas, Ryan Davis, Marcos Watanabe, Matthew Wiatrowski, Edvaldo de Morais, Lieve Laurens

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus Citations


This work proposes and applies a sequential approach of objective methods to aid the decision-making process for the deployment of microalgae biorefineries. The strategy combines Multicriteria Decision Analysis (MCDA) and weight assignment methods to simultaneously consider technical, economic, and environmental criteria to (1) outrank the best bioproduct options from different biomass fractions present in microalgae biomass at different ratios (namely carbohydrates, lipids, and protein) and (2) define the most suitable biorefining pathways associated with specific pairings of microalgae strains and cultivation conditions. The first part of the assessment identified succinic acid, acrylic acid, and citric acid as the top-ranked bioproducts from carbohydrates, polyurethane from lipids, and thermoplastic extrusion co-feed from protein. The second step of the analysis determined that, when production of a hydrocarbon fuel is desired, the compositional profile of a strain is paramount in defining the biorefining setup that should be pursued. In summary, microalgae lipids should be sent to the production of hydrocarbon fuels if the ratio between neutral lipids and fermentable carbohydrates is higher than roughly 1, with carbohydrates and protein being converted to the higher-value products noted above. Finally, this result was corroborated through process simulations, which indicated superior economic and environmental metrics when strains are paired with suitable conversion pathways identified through MCDA based on their compositional profiles. The outcomes of this work provide clear, objective, guidelines for establishing the best biorefining approach for a large suite of biochemical compositions as a screening method prior to employing detailed process simulations alongside rigorous techno-economic and life-cycle assessments.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages14
JournalChemical Engineering Journal
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-87779


  • bioproducts
  • biorefinery
  • decision-making
  • microalgae
  • multicriteria decision analysis


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