Article

Comparative energy life-cycle analyses of microalgal biomass production in open ponds and photobioreactors

Department of Environmental Engineering, Bahia Center for Clean Technologies, Federal University of Bahia, Rua Aristides Novis No. 2, 4 degrees andar, Polytechnique Institute, Salvador 40.210-630, BA, Brazil.
Bioresource Technology (Impact Factor: 5.04). 10/2009; 101(4):1406-13. DOI: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.09.038
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT An analysis of the energy life-cycle for production of biomass using the oil-rich microalgae Nannochloropsis sp. was performed, which included both raceway ponds, tubular and flat-plate photobioreactors for algal cultivation. The net energy ratio (NER) for each process was calculated. The results showed that the use of horizontal tubular photobioreactors (PBRs) is not economically feasible ([NER]<1) and that the estimated NERs for flat-plate PBRs and raceway ponds is >1. The NER for ponds and flat-plate PBRs could be raised to significantly higher values if the lipid content of the biomass were increased to 60% dw/cwd. Although neither system is currently competitive with petroleum, the threshold oil cost at which this would occur was also estimated.

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