Planning for Algal Systems: An Energy-Water-Food Nexus Perspective

Ariel Miara, Philip T. Pienkos, Morgan Bazilian, Ryan Davis, Jordan Macknick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus Citations


Energy production and development have impacts on non-energy sector concerns including food security, water security, and sustainable land-use. Biofuel pathways differ in the tradeoffs they present within this "energy-water-food nexus" (EWFN). In this study, we focus on algal systems in the context of these interrelated challenges. We present areas of key consideration within the EWFN for large-scale algal system planning and commercialization, consider key resource inputs and outputs in the context of traditional biofuels compared with algal biofuels, provide examples of current global practices and EWFN impacts pertaining to liquid biofuels, and discuss potential opportunities and tradeoffs in applications of algal systems to EWFN challenges. The work described here could be used as a guide for future analysis that could quantitatively evaluate algal system feasibility in terms of economic viability, spatially and temporally explicit environmental impacts and production levels, and cross-sectorial impacts.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)202-211
Number of pages10
JournalIndustrial Biotechnology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-6A20-61874


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