Sustainability of algae derived biodiesel: a mass balance approach



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A rigorous chemical engineering mass balance/unit operations approach is applied here to bio-diesel from algae mass culture.

An equivalent of 50,000,000 gallons per year (0.006002 m3/s) of petroleum-based Number 2 fuel oil (U.S., diesel for compression-ignition engines, about 0.1% of annual U.S. consumption) from oleaginous algae is the target. Methyl algaeate and ethyl algaeate diesel can according to this analysis conceptually be produced largely in a technologically sustainable way albeit at a lower available diesel yield. About 11 sq. miles of algae ponds would be needed with optimistic assumptions of 50 g biomass yield per day and m2 pond area. CO2 to foster algae growth should be supplied from a sustainable source such as a biomass-based ethanol production. Reliance on fossil-based CO2 from power plants or fertilizer production renders algae diesel non-sustainable in the long term.



Sustainability, Biofuels, Diesel, Algae, Energy, Mass balance