Research in Advanced Biofuels steadily developed during recent years. A number of highly innovative technologies have been explored at various scale: among these, lignocellulosic ethanol and CTO (Crude Tall Oil)-biofuel technologies already achieved the early-commercial status, while hydrotreating of vegetable oils (HVO, or HEFA) can be considered today fully commercial. However, despite the level of innovation in each specific technological process under consideration, the feedstock maintains a central role in making a biofuel chain really sustainable. In this context, microalgae grown in salt-water and arid areas offers a considerable opportunity for advanced biofuel production: at the same time, however, they also represent a considerable challenge. Processing microalgae in an economic way into a viable and sustainable liquid biofuel (a low-cost mass-produced product) is not trivial. So far, the main attention has been given to cultivating the microorganism, accumulating lipids, extracting the oil, valorising co-products, and treating the algae oil into biodiesel (through esterification) or HEFA (Hydrotreated Esthers and Fatty Acids), this second one representing a very high quality biofuels, almost a drop-in fuel (suitable either for road transport or for aviation), which production exceed 2 Mt y-1 today. However, extracting the algae oil at low cost and at industrial scale is not yet a full industrial mature process, and the still limited market size of algae-to-biofuels makes difficult the development of industrial-scale systems. Nevertheless, another option can be considered, i.e. processing the whole algae into dedicated thermochemical reactors, thus approaching the downstream processing of algae in a completely different way from separation. The present work examines the possible routes for thermochemical conversion of microalgae, distinguishing between dry-processes (namely pyrolysis and gasification) and wet-processes (near critical water hydrothermal liquefaction and hydrothermal gasification). Typical expected elementary composition of major products is given. Main peculiarities of batch versus continuous processing are also discussed from an engineering point of view. Major engineering advantages and challenges in thermochemically conversion of algae are identified and discussed, in view of the production of a transport biofuel. Finally, future perspectives for each route are given in terms of current and expected technological readiness level.

Thermochemical conversion of microalgae: challenges and opportunities / Chiaramonti, D; Prussi, M; Buffi, M; Casini, D; Rizzo, Am. - In: ENERGY PROCEDIA. - ISSN 1876-6102. - 75:(2015), pp. 819-826. [10.1016/j.egypro.2015.07.142]

Thermochemical conversion of microalgae: challenges and opportunities

Chiaramonti D;Prussi M;
2015

Abstract

Research in Advanced Biofuels steadily developed during recent years. A number of highly innovative technologies have been explored at various scale: among these, lignocellulosic ethanol and CTO (Crude Tall Oil)-biofuel technologies already achieved the early-commercial status, while hydrotreating of vegetable oils (HVO, or HEFA) can be considered today fully commercial. However, despite the level of innovation in each specific technological process under consideration, the feedstock maintains a central role in making a biofuel chain really sustainable. In this context, microalgae grown in salt-water and arid areas offers a considerable opportunity for advanced biofuel production: at the same time, however, they also represent a considerable challenge. Processing microalgae in an economic way into a viable and sustainable liquid biofuel (a low-cost mass-produced product) is not trivial. So far, the main attention has been given to cultivating the microorganism, accumulating lipids, extracting the oil, valorising co-products, and treating the algae oil into biodiesel (through esterification) or HEFA (Hydrotreated Esthers and Fatty Acids), this second one representing a very high quality biofuels, almost a drop-in fuel (suitable either for road transport or for aviation), which production exceed 2 Mt y-1 today. However, extracting the algae oil at low cost and at industrial scale is not yet a full industrial mature process, and the still limited market size of algae-to-biofuels makes difficult the development of industrial-scale systems. Nevertheless, another option can be considered, i.e. processing the whole algae into dedicated thermochemical reactors, thus approaching the downstream processing of algae in a completely different way from separation. The present work examines the possible routes for thermochemical conversion of microalgae, distinguishing between dry-processes (namely pyrolysis and gasification) and wet-processes (near critical water hydrothermal liquefaction and hydrothermal gasification). Typical expected elementary composition of major products is given. Main peculiarities of batch versus continuous processing are also discussed from an engineering point of view. Major engineering advantages and challenges in thermochemically conversion of algae are identified and discussed, in view of the production of a transport biofuel. Finally, future perspectives for each route are given in terms of current and expected technological readiness level.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11583/2946174