Techno-economic Analysis for the Production of Novel Bio-derived Elastomers with Modified Algal Proteins as a Reinforcing Agent
Shifting from a fossil fuel-dependent economy to modern, sustainable development requires not only the introduction of biofuels but should also include novel and sustainable materials from renewable feedstocks. In this study, the viability of producing polyurethane-inspired elastomers manufactured through copolymerization of modified proteins from microalgae with the synthetic monomer poly(ethylene glycol) methyl ether methacrylate (PEGMA) is investigated. Techno-economic evaluation of the process reveals great potential for the technology to be economically feasible, resulting in an investment payback rate of 8.4 years under the given conditions. Sensitivity analysis shows that the process feasibility is highly dependent on the protein availability, price of copolymer, and protein concentration. Conversely, the relatively minor influence that the price of residual proteins plays in the process economics is very beneficial from the perspective of justifying algal biofuel production. A positive economic balance for the technology is achieved for a variety of different product formulations, prices, and processing techniques.
KeywordsMicroalgae Proteins Biomaterials Biorefinery Biopolymer
This work was funded by the Cooperative Agreement between the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar Institute), Abu Dhabi, UAE, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, MA, USA—Reference BIOREFINERY 02/MI/MI/CP/11/07633/GEN/G/00 for work under the Second Five-Year Agreement.
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