Combined Techno-Economic Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment of an Integrated Direct Air Capture System with Advanced Algal Biofuel Production

Kylee Harris, Eric Tan, Valerie Thomas, Jaden Johnston, Shavonn D'Souza, Christopher Jones, Eric Ping, Miles Sakwa-Novak, Yanhui Yuan, Ron Chance

Research output: NRELPresentation


The continuous increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in the atmosphere since the First Industrial Revolution correlates convincingly with the ongoing rise of the Earth's global average temperature contributing to climate change. As a response, carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies are being implemented to mitigate anthropogenic CO2 emissions by capturing CO2 from high emitting point sources, such as power plants, refineries, and cement factories, and subsequently buried in geological formations underground for long term storage. Recently direct air capture (DAC) has emerged as a promising alternative technology that captures CO2 directly from the atmosphere for use or sequestration. This study investigates the potential synergistic benefits of integrating a solid amine-based DAC system with advanced algal biofuel production in photobioreactors (PBRs). DAC utilization allows the removal of atmospheric CO2 while also decoupling algae production facilities from anthropogenic point CO2 sources and avoiding the cost and logistics challenges of transporting CO2 long distances to remote facilities. Techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment are performed to assess the economic and environmental benefits of heat and mass integration between the DAC and the PBR for biofuel production. The DAC-PBR system integration also considers on-site flue gas handling options, DAC capital utilization, the tradeoff between centralization or decentralization of key unit operations, and the PBR array. This presentation will discuss how optimizing DAC-PBR process integration can enhance the algal biofuel's economic and environmental sustainability and the prospect of DAC enabling the circular carbon economy.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2021

Publication series

NamePresented at the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, 17 November 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/PR-5100-81411


  • algal biofuel production
  • CO2
  • decarbonization
  • direct air capture
  • greenhouse gas emissions
  • techno-economic assessment


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