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Comparative life cycle assessment of autotrophic cultivation of Scenedesmus dimorphus in raceway pond coupled to biodiesel and biogas production

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Abstract

Life cycle assessment (LCA) of indigenous freshwater microalgae, Scenedesmus dimorphus, cultivation in open raceway pond and its conversion to biodiesel and biogas were carried out. The LCA inventory inputs for the biogas scenario was entirely based on primary data obtained from algal cultivation (in pilot scale raceway pond), harvesting, and biogas production; while only the downstream processing involved in biodiesel production namely drying, reaction and purification were based on secondary data. Overall, eight scenarios were modeled for the integrated process involving: algae-based CO2 capture and downstream processing scenarios for biodiesel and biogas along with impact assessment of nutrient addition and extent of recycling in a life cycle perspective. The LCA results indicated a huge energy deficit and net CO2 negative in terms of CO2 capture for both the biodiesel and biogas scenarios, majorly due to lower algal biomass productivity and higher energy requirements for culture mixing. The sensitivity analysis indicated that variability in the biomass productivity has predominant effect on the primary energy demand and global warming potential (GWP, kg CO2 eq.) followed by specific energy consumption for mixing algal culture. Furthermore, the LCA results indicated that biogas conversion route from microalgae was more energy efficient and sustainable than the biodiesel route. The overall findings of the study suggested that microalgae-mediated CO2 capture and conversion to biodiesel and biogas production can be energy efficient at higher biomass productivity (> 10 g m−2 day−1) and via employing energy-efficient systems for culture mixing (< 2 W m−3).

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Acknowledgements

Financial support (DST/IS-STA/CO2-SR-178/13(G)) from Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India is gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Sandeep Narayan Mudliar.

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Mediboyina, M.K., Banuvalli, B.K., Chauhan, V.S. et al. Comparative life cycle assessment of autotrophic cultivation of Scenedesmus dimorphus in raceway pond coupled to biodiesel and biogas production. Bioprocess Biosyst Eng 43, 233–247 (2020) doi:10.1007/s00449-019-02220-8

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Keywords

  • Microalgae
  • Life cycle assessment
  • CO2 capture
  • Biogas
  • Biodiesel
  • Sensitivity analysis