Comparative Energy Life-Cycle Analyses of Microalgal Biomass Production in Open Ponds and Photobioreactors

Orlando Jorquera, Asher Kiperstok, Emerson A. Sales, Marcelo Embiruçu, Maria L. Ghirardi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

672 Scopus Citations

Abstract

An analysis of the energy life-cycle for production of biomass using the oil-rich microalgae Nannochloropsis sp. was performed, which included both raceway ponds, tubular and flat-plate photobioreactors for algal cultivation. The net energy ratio (NER) for each process was calculated. The results showed that the use of horizontal tubular photobioreactors (PBRs) is not economically feasible ([NER] < 1) and that the estimated NERs for flat-plate PBRs and raceway ponds is >1. The NER for ponds and flat-plate PBRs could be raised to significantly higher values if the lipid content of the biomass were increased to 60% dw/cwd. Although neither system is currently competitive with petroleum, the threshold oil cost at which this would occur was also estimated.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1406-1413
Number of pages8
JournalBioresource Technology
Volume101
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Available online 2 October 2009

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-270-47226

Keywords

  • Energy
  • Life-cycle analysis
  • Microalgae
  • Oil production
  • Photobioreactors

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