Techno-Economic Assessment for Opportunities to Integrate Algae Farming with Wastewater Treatment

Jennifer Clippinger, Ryan Davis

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


This report investigates the economic and scalability potential for algal biomass production based on opportunities to couple algae farming with wastewater treatment (WWT). This activity was motivated in part by a recent influx of technology developers who are currently in various stages of planning, construction, and operation of algae facilities for treating municipal wastewater, all making claims of tremendous economic potential for algal WWT relative to other more traditional WWT methods when viewing treated wastewater as the primary product output and algal biomass as a secondary coproduct. In addition to solving for minimum biomass selling price (MBSP) for a farm configured to maximize biomass production while minimizing water footprint (when sourcing makeup water from local groundwater resources at added cost), the algal WWT cases evaluated here also solved for MBSP while assigning a treatment credit as a means to valorize the treated water as a coproduct in the farm model. This enables a consistent comparison against the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s standard algae farm models.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2021

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-5100-75237


  • algae
  • algae farm
  • TEA
  • wastewater treatment
  • WWT


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