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 (Impact Factor: 4.1). 10/2013; 2(4). DOI: 10.1016/j.algal.2013.07.003

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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