Development of hydrothermal liquefaction and upgrading technologies for lipid-extracted algae conversion to liquid fuels

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Richland, WA 99354, USA
Algal Research 01/2013;

ABSTRACT Bench-scale tests were performed for lipid-extracted microalgae (LEA) conversion to liquid fuels via hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) and upgrading processes. Process simulation and economic analysis for a large-scale LEA HTL and upgrading system were developed based on the best available experimental results. The system assumed an LEA feed rate of 608 dry metric tons/day and that the feedstock was converted to a crude HTL bio-oil and further upgraded via hydrotreating and hydrocracking to produce liquid fuels, mainly alkanes. Performance and cost results demonstrated that HTL and upgrading is effective for converting LEA to liquid fuels. The liquid fuels annual yield was estimated to be 26.9 million gallon gasoline-equivalent (GGE) and the overall energy efficiency on a higher heating value (HHV) basis was estimated to be 69.5%. The variation range of the minimum fuel selling price (MFSP) was estimated to be $2.07 to $7.11/GGE by combining the effects of selected process factors. Key factors affecting the production cost were identified to be the LEA feedstock cost, final products yields, and the upgrading equipment cost. The impact of plant scale on MFSP was also investigated.

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    ABSTRACT: Wet algae slurries can be converted into an upgradeable biocrude by hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL). High levels of carbon conversion to gravity separable biocrude product were accomplished at relatively low temperature (350 °C) in a continuous-flow, pressurized (sub-critical liquid water) environment (20 MPa). As opposed to earlier work in batch reactors reported by others, direct oil recovery was achieved without the use of a solvent and biomass trace components were removed by processing steps so that they did not cause process difficulties. High conversions were obtained even with high slurry concentrations of up to 35 wt.% of dry solids. Catalytic hydrotreating was effectively applied for hydrodeoxygenation, hydrodenitrogenation, and hydrodesulfurization of the biocrude to form liquid hydrocarbon fuel. Catalytic hydrothermal gasification was effectively applied for HTL byproduct water cleanup and fuel gas production from water soluble organics, allowing the water to be considered for recycle of nutrients to the algae growth ponds. As a result, high conversion of algae to liquid hydrocarbon and gas products was found with low levels of organic contamination in the byproduct water. All three process steps were accomplished in bench-scale, continuous-flow reactor systems such that design data for process scale-up was generated.
    Algal Research. 01/2013;


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Yunhua Zhu