The potentials and challenges of algae based biofuels: A review of the techno-economic, life cycle, and resource assessment modeling

Ryan Davis, Jason Quinn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

348 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Microalgae biofuel production has been extensively evaluated through resource, economic and life cycle assessments. Resource assessments consistently identify land as non-limiting and highlight the need to consider siting based on combined geographical constraints of land and other critical resources such as water and carbon dioxide. Economic assessments report a selling cost of fuel that ranges between $1.64 and over $30gal-1 consistent with large variability reported in the life cycle literature, -75 to 534gCO2-eqMJ-1. Large drivers behind such variability stem from differences in productivity assumptions, pathway technologies, and system boundaries. Productivity represents foundational units in these assessments with current assumed yields in various assessments varying by a factor of 60. A review of the literature in these areas highlights the need for harmonized assessments such that direct comparisons of alternative processing technologies can be made on the metrics of resource requirements, economic feasibility, and environmental impact.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)444-452
Number of pages9
JournalBioresource Technology
Volume184
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Elsevier Ltd.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-63087

Keywords

  • Biofuels
  • Life cycle assessment
  • Microalgae
  • Productivity potential
  • Techno-economic assessment

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