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Comparative Financial Assessment of Single and Two-stage Microalgae Dewatering
Poster Title: Comparative Financial Assessment of Single and Two-stage Microalgae Dewatering
Submitted on 16 Oct 2018
Author(s): Mutah Musa (1), Amar Doshi (2), Richard Brown (1) and Thomas Rainey (1)
Affiliations: (1) Biofuels Engine Research Facility, Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Brisbane - Australia; (2) Queensland Competition Authority (QCA), Brisbane - Australia
This poster was presented at Bioenergy STRONG 2018
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Poster Information
Abstract: Biomass demand for food, feed and fuel production is expected to increase as global population grows. Microalgae biomass has the potential to complement and possibly replace agricultural crops as a source of food, feed and fuel in the near future. The scale-up of microalgae biomass production is however challenged by the need for low-cost technologies at various production stages, with dewatering among the most prominent of these stages. Dewatering of microalgae in a single stage system using the wet-end of a paper machine (Fourdrinier former) was compared with a conventional two-stage dewatering system which comprised of clarifier settling followed by centrifugation. A processing scale of 175 t/d was modelled for both systems to process Chlorella vulgaris suspension with a concentration of 0.05% at harvest to a cake concentration of 25% on dry substance basis. Capital and operational expenditure were estimated considering the fixed capital investment (FCI), energy, flocculant and other process costs. The net present value (NPV) for a 20 year plant life was AU$172 million for the single stage system and AU$74 million for the two-stage system. Electricity use was the key cost driver, accounting for 65% of operational costs in the single stage system and 90% in the two-stage system. The minimum selling price (MSP) for dewatering microalgae was AU$33.15 for the single stage system and AU$314.97 for two-stage system. Further analysis revealed that MSP was most sensitive to electricity and flocculant costs. This financial assessment shows that the single step dewatering process has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of microalgae dewatering, which presently accounts for 20-30% of the concentrated biomass production cost.Summary: This study investigates dewatering, an important stage in the production of biofuels from microalgae.References: [1] M. Hannon, J. Gimpel, M. Tran, B. Rasala, S. Mayfield, Biofuels from algae: challenges and potential, Biofuels. 1 (2010) 763–784.
[2] K.K. Sharma, S. Garg, Y. Li, A. Malekizadeh, P.M. Schenk, Critical analysis of current microalgae dewatering techniques, Biofuels. 4 (2016) 397–407. doi:10.4155/BFS.13.25.
[3] G.A. Smook, Handbook for pulp & paper technologists, 4th Editio, TAPPI Press, Georgia, USA, 2016.

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