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Title: A National-Scale Comparison of Resource and Nutrient Demands for Algae-Based Biofuel Production by Lipid Extraction and Hydrothermal Liquefaction

Algae’s high productivity provides potential resource advantages over other fuel crops. However, demand for land, water, and nutrients must be minimized to avoid impacts on food production. We apply our national-scale, open-pond, growth and resource models to assess several biomass to fuel technological pathways based on Chlorella. We compare resource demands between hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) and lipid extraction (LE) to meet 1.89E+10 and 7.95E+10 L yr-1 biofuel targets. We estimate nutrient demands where post-fuel biomass is consumed as co-products and recycling by anaerobic digestion (AD) or catalytic hydrothermal gasification (CHG). Sites are selected through prioritization based on fuel value relative to a set of site-specific resource costs. The highest priority sites are located along the Gulf of Mexico coast, but potential sites exist nationwide. We find that HTL reduces land and freshwater consumption by up to 46% and saline groundwater by around 70%. Without recycling, nitrogen (N) and phosphorous (P) demand is reduced 33%, but is large relative to current U.S. agricultural consumption. The most nutrient-efficient pathways are LE+CHG for N and HTL+CHG for P (by 42%). Resource gains for HTL+CHG are offset by a 344% increase in N consumption relative to LE+CHG (with potential for further recycling). Nutrient recyclingmore » is essential to effective use of alternative nutrient sources. Modeling of utilization availability and costs remains, but we find that for HTL+CHG at the 7.95E+10 L yr-1 production target, municipal sources can offset 17% of N and 40% of P demand and animal manures can generally meet demands.« less
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Biomass & Bioenergy, 64:276-290
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States
algae biofuel, sustainability, flue gas, nitrogen, phosphorus, GIS