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Title: Avoiding Conflicts between Future Freshwater Algae Production and Water Scarcity in the United States at the Energy-Water Nexus

Abstract

Sustainable production of algae will depend on understanding trade-offs at the energy-water nexus. Algal biofuels promise to improve the environmental sustainability profile of renewable energy along most dimensions. In this assessment of potential US freshwater production, we assumed sustainable production along the carbon dimension by simulating placement of open ponds away from high-carbon-stock lands (forest, grassland, and wetland) and near sources of waste CO 2 . Along the water dimension, we quantified trade-offs between water scarcity and production for an ‘upstream’ indicator (measuring minimum water supply) and a ‘downstream’ indicator (measuring impacts on rivers). For the upstream indicator, we developed a visualization tool to evaluate algae production for different thresholds for water surplus. We hypothesized that maintaining a minimum seasonal water surplus would also protect river habitat for aquatic biota. Our study confirmed that ensuring surplus water also reduced the duration of low-flow events, but only above a threshold. We also observed a trade-off between algal production and the duration of low-flow events in streams. These results can help to guide the choice of basin-specific sustainability targets to avoid conflicts with competing water users at this energy-water nexus. Where conflicts emerge, alternative water sources or enclosed photobioreactors may be neededmore » for algae cultivation.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]
  1. Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Oak Ridge National Lab. (ORNL), Oak Ridge, TN (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)
OSTI Identifier:
1509541
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Water (Basel)
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Name: Water (Basel); Journal Volume: 11; Journal Issue: 4; Journal ID: ISSN 2073-4441
Publisher:
MDPI
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Citation Formats

Jager, Henriette I., Efroymson, Rebecca A., and Baskaran, Latha M. Avoiding Conflicts between Future Freshwater Algae Production and Water Scarcity in the United States at the Energy-Water Nexus. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.3390/w11040836.
Jager, Henriette I., Efroymson, Rebecca A., & Baskaran, Latha M. Avoiding Conflicts between Future Freshwater Algae Production and Water Scarcity in the United States at the Energy-Water Nexus. United States. doi:10.3390/w11040836.
Jager, Henriette I., Efroymson, Rebecca A., and Baskaran, Latha M. Sat . "Avoiding Conflicts between Future Freshwater Algae Production and Water Scarcity in the United States at the Energy-Water Nexus". United States. doi:10.3390/w11040836. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1509541.
@article{osti_1509541,
title = {Avoiding Conflicts between Future Freshwater Algae Production and Water Scarcity in the United States at the Energy-Water Nexus},
author = {Jager, Henriette I. and Efroymson, Rebecca A. and Baskaran, Latha M.},
abstractNote = {Sustainable production of algae will depend on understanding trade-offs at the energy-water nexus. Algal biofuels promise to improve the environmental sustainability profile of renewable energy along most dimensions. In this assessment of potential US freshwater production, we assumed sustainable production along the carbon dimension by simulating placement of open ponds away from high-carbon-stock lands (forest, grassland, and wetland) and near sources of waste CO 2 . Along the water dimension, we quantified trade-offs between water scarcity and production for an ‘upstream’ indicator (measuring minimum water supply) and a ‘downstream’ indicator (measuring impacts on rivers). For the upstream indicator, we developed a visualization tool to evaluate algae production for different thresholds for water surplus. We hypothesized that maintaining a minimum seasonal water surplus would also protect river habitat for aquatic biota. Our study confirmed that ensuring surplus water also reduced the duration of low-flow events, but only above a threshold. We also observed a trade-off between algal production and the duration of low-flow events in streams. These results can help to guide the choice of basin-specific sustainability targets to avoid conflicts with competing water users at this energy-water nexus. Where conflicts emerge, alternative water sources or enclosed photobioreactors may be needed for algae cultivation.},
doi = {10.3390/w11040836},
journal = {Water (Basel)},
number = 4,
volume = 11,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {4}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Figures / Tables:

Figure 1 Figure 1: Process used to assess the marginal sustainability outcomes for increased water demand associated with algae production. Primary steps included (a) establishing a low-carbon baseline, (b) defining and assessing how thresholds for minimum water surplus influence potential US algae production, and (c) assessing the duration of extreme low-flow andmore » high-temperature events in representative streams.« less

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