Reduction of environmental and energy footprint of microalgal biodiesel production through material and energy integration
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The life cycle impacts were assessed for an integrated microalgal biodiesel production system that facilitates energy- and nutrient- recovery through anaerobic digestion, and utilizes glycerol generated within the facility for additional heterotrophic biodiesel production. Results show that when external fossil energy inputs are lowered through process integration, the energy demand, global warming potential (GWP), and process water demand decrease significantly and become less sensitive to algal lipid content. When substitution allocation is used to assign additional credit for avoidance of fossil energy use (through utilization of recycled nutrients and biogas), GWP and water demand can, in fact, increase with increase in lipid content. Relative to stand-alone algal biofuel facilities, energy demand can be lowered by 3â€“14 GJ per ton of biodiesel through process integration. GWP of biodiesel from the integrated system can be lowered by up to 71% compared to petroleum fuel. Evaporative water loss was the primary water demand driver.
Chowdhury R, Viamajala S, Gerlach R, "Reduction of environmental and energy footprint of microalgal biodiesel production through material and energy integration," Bioresource Technology, March 2012 108:102–111