The Costs of Producing Biodiesel from Microalgae in the Asia-Pacific Region
Capital and operating cost estimates for converting microalgae to oil or biodiesel are compared. These cost comparisons are based on Australian locations, which are expected to fall at the lower end of the cost spectrum in the Asia-Pacific Region and other parts of the world. It is assumed that microalgae are grown in a concentrated saltwater medium in raceway ponds, then are harvested, dewatered and the oil is extracted and converted to biodiesel by transesterification. The size of the desired pond system affects the number of potential locations due to constraints in resource availability. Cost estimates vary significantly due to differences in the assumed oil productivity, the harvesting equipment and the method of converting residual biomass to electric power. A comparison is made with recent cost estimates from other parts of the world, in which the expected costs of microalgae oil production from a number of publicly available sources lay between 0.34–31.0 USD/L. The resulting cost estimates of between 1.37—2.66 USD/L are at the lower end of this scale, thereby confirming that Australia has the potential to be a low-cost producer of algal oil and biodiesel in the Asia-Pacific Region. It was significant that, despite similar assumptions for the microalgae-to-oil process, cost estimates for the final biodiesel or oil price differed by a factor of 2. This highlights the high degree of uncertainty in such economic predictions.
Keywords: Asia-Pacific region; biodiesel; economics; microalgae
This article is cited as :
Griffin, G., Batten, D., Beer, T., & Campbell, P. (2013). The Costs of Producing Biodiesel from Microalgae in the Asia-Pacific Region. International Journal Of Renewable Energy Development (IJRED), 2(3), 105-113. doi:10.14710/ijred.2.3.105-113
Alabi, O.A.; Tampier, M; Bibeau, E. (2009) Microalgae technologies and processes for biofuels/bioenergy production in British Columbia: Current technology. suitability and barriers to production. Final report: British Columbia Innovation Council, 63p.
Batten, D.F., Campbell, P.K., Threlfall, G. (2011) Resource Potential of Algae for Sustainable Biodiesel Production in the APEC Economies. Report prepared for the APEC Energy Working Group under EWG 18/2009, Document no. APEC#211-RE-01.9, 35 p. (can be downloaded at http://www.egnret.ewg.apec.org /reports/index.html)
Benemann, J.R.; Goebel, R.P.; Weissman, J.C.; Augenstein, D.C. (1982) Microalgae as a source of liquid fuels. Final Report, U.S. Department of Energy, 202 p.
Benemann, J.R; Oswald, W.J (1996). Systems and Economic Analysis of Microalgae Ponds for Conversion of CO2 to Biomass. Final Report, Pittsburgh Energy Technology Center
Campbell, P.K; Beer, T.; Batten, D. (2008) Greenhouse Gas Sequestration by Algae – energy and greenhouse gas life cycle studies. in Proc. 6th Australian Life-Cycle Assessment Conference, Melbourne.
Campbell, P.K., Beer, T and Batten, D. (2011) Life Cycle Assessment of Biodiesel Production from Microalgae in Ponds. Bioresource Technology, 102, 50-56: doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2010.06.048
Griffin, G.J; Batten D.F. (2009) The Economics of Producing Biodiesel from Micro-Algae in Australia. Proceedings of Bioenergy Australia conference, 8-10 December 2009, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.
Haas, M.J., McAloon, A.J., Yee, W.C., Foglia, T.A. (2006) A process model to estimate biodiesel production costs. Bioresourse Technology, 97, 671-678
Mohn, F.H. (1988) Harvesting of micro-algal biomass. in Borowitzka, M.A. & Borowitzka, L.J. (eds), Micro-algal biotechnology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Chapter 15
Pienkos, P. Historical Overview of Algal Biofuel Technoeconomic Analyses. DOE Algal BiofuelsWorkshop, University of Maryland, December 2008, http://purl.access.gpo.gov/GPO/LPS117182. Accessed on July 2010
Regan, D.L; Gartside, G. (1983) Liquid Fuels from Micro-Algae in Australia, (CSIRO, Melbourne, 1983).
Stephens, E., Ross, I.L., King, Z., Mussgnug, J.H., Kruse, O., Posten, C., Borowitzka M.A., Hankamer, B., 2010. An economic and technical evaluation of microalgal biofuels. Nature Biotechnology, 28, 126-128
Van Harmelen, T. & Oonk, H. (2006) Microalgae Biofixation Processes: Some Applications and Potential Contributions to Greenhouse Gas Mitigation Options. Report prepared for the International Network on Biofixation of CO2 and Greenhouse Gas Abatement with Microalgae, TNO, Apeldoorn, 45p.
USDoE (2009) National Algal Biofuels Technology Roadmap. US Department of Energy Biomass Program
Weismann, J.C. &Goebel, R.P (1987) Design and Analysis of Pond Systems for the Purpose of Producing Fuels. Final Report, Solar Energy Research Institute., Golden, CO, SERI/STR-231-2840
The Authors submitting a manuscript do so on the understanding that if accepted for publication, copyright of the article shall be assigned to International Journal of Renewable Energy Development and Center of Biomass and Renewable Energy, Department of Chemical Engineering Diponegoro University as publisher of the journal.
Copyright encompasses exclusive rights to reproduce and deliver the article in all form and media, including reprints, photographs, microfilms and any other similar reproductions, as well as translations. The reproduction of any part of this journal, its storage in databases and its transmission by any form or media, such as electronic, electrostatic and mechanical copies, photocopies, recordings, magnetic media, etc. , will be allowed only with a written permission from International Journal of Renewable Energy Development and Center of Biomass and Renewable Energy, Department of Chemical Engineering Diponegoro University.
International Journal of Renewable Energy Development and Center of Biomass and Renewable Energy, Department of Chemical Engineering Diponegoro University, the Editors and the Advisory International Editorial Board make every effort to ensure that no wrong or misleading data, opinions or statements be published in the journal. In any way, the contents of the articles and advertisements published in the International Journal of Renewable Energy Development are sole and exclusive responsibility of their respective authors and advertisers.