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Title: Final Report: Scale-up of Algal Biofuel Production Using Waste Nutrients

Abstract

Renewable fuels can be more environmentally friendly than conventional fuels and can be produced locally, supporting energy independence. Liquid renewable fuels are of special interest due to their high energy density. Algae are a promising prospective feedstock for low carbon intensity liquid biofuels, due to their high productivity and potential for high lipid or carbohydrate content. Their ability to grow on wastewater and waste nutrients and on non-arable land are cost and sustainability advantages. The organic matter content of wastewater promotes mixotrophic and/or heterotrophic growth of both algae and bacteria, boosting biomass productivity further. However, economic and technologic challenges persist that prevent the scale-up of algal biofuels to commercial relevance. These challenges include algal harvesting, drying, dewatering, and the conversion of algal biomass to usable fuels (Hannon et al 2010, Dunlap and Shaw 2009, Pienkos et al. 2009). The US Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) supports research to overcome these challenges and outlines the research and development goals for algal biofuels in their Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP). The long-term goals of the MYPP for algal biofuels research are briefly as follows: develop the domestic ability to produce algal biofuels at a scale of 5 billion gallons permore » year (BGY) by 2030 and demonstrate technologies that produce biofuel intermediates from algae at a cost of $3/gallon of gasoline equivalent (GGE) by 2022 (BETO MYPP 2016). This research reported herein was funded to investigate methods of meeting an intermediate milestone of 2,500 gallons of biofuel intermediate per acre per year for a non-integrated process by improving algal productivity, harvesting efficiency, and conversion to biofuel intermediates. Use of wastewater and wastewater nutrients was a key distinguishing characteristic of this project. In pursuit of 2,500 gallons of biofuel intermediate (BFI) per acre per year, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) sought to develop the capability to produce biofuel intermediates from microalgae grown on municipal wastewater at a 20-acre algae-based wastewater treatment facility in Delhi, California (37.43° N), which includes 7 acres of raceway ponds. Coupling algal biofuel production with wastewater treatment capitalizes on the abundant waste nutrients and carbon present in wastewater and reduces use of clean water in algal biorefinery systems. In this research, the performance of the full-scale wastewater treatment plant was characterized by measuring productivity, wastewater treatment performance, hydraulic characteristics, and energy consumption. Nine 1,000-L pilot raceways with CO2 addition were used in experiments to maximize productivity. Low-cost, energy-efficient algae bioflocculation and settling were monitored. Population genetics were monitored in an attempt to correlate taxa with superior productivity and/or settling. Algae-bacterial biomass was converted to biofuel intermediates via bench-scale hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), and the resulting fuel quality was characterized. To develop rapid strain screening capabilities, a climate simulating photobioreactor (“LEAPS”) was developed and validated against outdoor raceways. A techno-economic analysis (TEA) and a lifecycle assessment (LCA) were performed to model process economics and sustainability. The major outcomes of this research included demonstration of 33 g/m2-day annual average algal-bacterial productivity in pilot raceways, and a biofuel intermediate yield of 0.35 g intermediate/g algae biomass via HTL, for a yield of 4,100 gallons BFI per acre per year, assuming a 90% harvest efficiency and ignoring other minor losses. This exceeded the project goal of 2,500 gallons of BFI per acre per year and nearly met the 2030 program goal, highlighting the promise of integrating wastewater treatment and biofuels production. The biocrude BFI produced by the process is refined to diesel and naphtha fuels. These fuels are normalized to the energy content of gasoline (gallons gasoline equivalent, GGE, for comparison to other fuels). Results from the TEA of the this complete “well-to-wheel” process demonstrated that, at a 400-ha scale, a minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) of $12.55/GGE, which could be decreased 57% to $7.14/GGE when including revenue from coupling the biofuel production with the co-products of wastewater treatment services and low carbon fuel credits from California and Federal programs. Due mainly to the high capital costs of thickener centrifuges and hydrothermal processing equipment, the fuel cost is sensitive to scale, with significantly lower costs expected for larger farms. In this research project, significant advances were made in improving raceway algal productivity and fuel production from algae biomass, while also improving process economics. These outcomes brought the algal biofuel technology closer to being a sustainable and marketable process. The remainder of this executive summary is organized into the following six primary project tasks: (1) to optimize biomass productivity for a selected strain at Delhi, (2) to maximize algal productivity and harvesting efficiency in Delhi pilot ponds, (3) a full-scale raceway hydraulic characterization, (4) biomass processing to biofuel intermediates, and (5) scale-up engineering analysis, modeling, and planning.« less

Authors:
 [1];  [1]
  1. California Polytechnic State Univ. (CalPoly), San Luis Obispo, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
California Polytechnic State Univ. (CalPoly), San Luis Obispo, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), Bioenergy Technologies Office (EE-3B)
Contributing Org.:
MicroBio Engineering, Inc.; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Sandia National Laboratory
OSTI Identifier:
1475450
Report Number(s):
DOE-CPC-0006317
DOE Contract Number:  
EE0006317
Resource Type:
Technical Report
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; algae; biofuel; oil; hydrothermal liquefaction; HTL; biomass yield; wastewater

Citation Formats

Lundquist, Tryg, and Spierling, Ruth. Final Report: Scale-up of Algal Biofuel Production Using Waste Nutrients. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.2172/1475450.
Lundquist, Tryg, & Spierling, Ruth. Final Report: Scale-up of Algal Biofuel Production Using Waste Nutrients. United States. doi:10.2172/1475450.
Lundquist, Tryg, and Spierling, Ruth. Wed . "Final Report: Scale-up of Algal Biofuel Production Using Waste Nutrients". United States. doi:10.2172/1475450. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1475450.
@article{osti_1475450,
title = {Final Report: Scale-up of Algal Biofuel Production Using Waste Nutrients},
author = {Lundquist, Tryg and Spierling, Ruth},
abstractNote = {Renewable fuels can be more environmentally friendly than conventional fuels and can be produced locally, supporting energy independence. Liquid renewable fuels are of special interest due to their high energy density. Algae are a promising prospective feedstock for low carbon intensity liquid biofuels, due to their high productivity and potential for high lipid or carbohydrate content. Their ability to grow on wastewater and waste nutrients and on non-arable land are cost and sustainability advantages. The organic matter content of wastewater promotes mixotrophic and/or heterotrophic growth of both algae and bacteria, boosting biomass productivity further. However, economic and technologic challenges persist that prevent the scale-up of algal biofuels to commercial relevance. These challenges include algal harvesting, drying, dewatering, and the conversion of algal biomass to usable fuels (Hannon et al 2010, Dunlap and Shaw 2009, Pienkos et al. 2009). The US Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) supports research to overcome these challenges and outlines the research and development goals for algal biofuels in their Multi-Year Program Plan (MYPP). The long-term goals of the MYPP for algal biofuels research are briefly as follows: develop the domestic ability to produce algal biofuels at a scale of 5 billion gallons per year (BGY) by 2030 and demonstrate technologies that produce biofuel intermediates from algae at a cost of $3/gallon of gasoline equivalent (GGE) by 2022 (BETO MYPP 2016). This research reported herein was funded to investigate methods of meeting an intermediate milestone of 2,500 gallons of biofuel intermediate per acre per year for a non-integrated process by improving algal productivity, harvesting efficiency, and conversion to biofuel intermediates. Use of wastewater and wastewater nutrients was a key distinguishing characteristic of this project. In pursuit of 2,500 gallons of biofuel intermediate (BFI) per acre per year, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (Cal Poly) sought to develop the capability to produce biofuel intermediates from microalgae grown on municipal wastewater at a 20-acre algae-based wastewater treatment facility in Delhi, California (37.43° N), which includes 7 acres of raceway ponds. Coupling algal biofuel production with wastewater treatment capitalizes on the abundant waste nutrients and carbon present in wastewater and reduces use of clean water in algal biorefinery systems. In this research, the performance of the full-scale wastewater treatment plant was characterized by measuring productivity, wastewater treatment performance, hydraulic characteristics, and energy consumption. Nine 1,000-L pilot raceways with CO2 addition were used in experiments to maximize productivity. Low-cost, energy-efficient algae bioflocculation and settling were monitored. Population genetics were monitored in an attempt to correlate taxa with superior productivity and/or settling. Algae-bacterial biomass was converted to biofuel intermediates via bench-scale hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), and the resulting fuel quality was characterized. To develop rapid strain screening capabilities, a climate simulating photobioreactor (“LEAPS”) was developed and validated against outdoor raceways. A techno-economic analysis (TEA) and a lifecycle assessment (LCA) were performed to model process economics and sustainability. The major outcomes of this research included demonstration of 33 g/m2-day annual average algal-bacterial productivity in pilot raceways, and a biofuel intermediate yield of 0.35 g intermediate/g algae biomass via HTL, for a yield of 4,100 gallons BFI per acre per year, assuming a 90% harvest efficiency and ignoring other minor losses. This exceeded the project goal of 2,500 gallons of BFI per acre per year and nearly met the 2030 program goal, highlighting the promise of integrating wastewater treatment and biofuels production. The biocrude BFI produced by the process is refined to diesel and naphtha fuels. These fuels are normalized to the energy content of gasoline (gallons gasoline equivalent, GGE, for comparison to other fuels). Results from the TEA of the this complete “well-to-wheel” process demonstrated that, at a 400-ha scale, a minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) of $12.55/GGE, which could be decreased 57% to $7.14/GGE when including revenue from coupling the biofuel production with the co-products of wastewater treatment services and low carbon fuel credits from California and Federal programs. Due mainly to the high capital costs of thickener centrifuges and hydrothermal processing equipment, the fuel cost is sensitive to scale, with significantly lower costs expected for larger farms. In this research project, significant advances were made in improving raceway algal productivity and fuel production from algae biomass, while also improving process economics. These outcomes brought the algal biofuel technology closer to being a sustainable and marketable process. The remainder of this executive summary is organized into the following six primary project tasks: (1) to optimize biomass productivity for a selected strain at Delhi, (2) to maximize algal productivity and harvesting efficiency in Delhi pilot ponds, (3) a full-scale raceway hydraulic characterization, (4) biomass processing to biofuel intermediates, and (5) scale-up engineering analysis, modeling, and planning.},
doi = {10.2172/1475450},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {10}
}