Extraction and conversion pathways for microalgae to biodiesel: A review focused on energy consumption

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Applied Phycology, 2012, 24 (6), pp. 1681 - 1698
Issue Date:
2012-04-17
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Numerous life cycle analysis (LCA) studies of microalgae to fuel have been released over the past 3 years in an attempt to determine the environmental sustainability of this novel concept. Despite numerous issues with these LCA studies, they have highlighted that cultivation and dewatering/drying for extraction and conversion are major energy sinks within the process. This paper provides a critical review of extraction and conversion methods discussed in literature and under commercial investigation. The basis of this review is energy consumption, with its purpose to highlight methods that deserve further attention in research and development. This review concludes with an energetic assessment of four conversion processes including pulsed electric field-assisted extraction followed by transesterification, in situ acid catalysed esterification of dry biomass, in situ hydrolysis and esterification of wet biomass and hydrothermal liquefaction. The analysis highlighted that energetically feasible methods do exist for the conversion of microalgal biomass to fuel; however, all require further research to be applied at commercial scale. © 2012 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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