Modelling and assessment of algae cultivation for large scale biofuel production – sustainability and aspects of up-scaling of algae biorefineries

Maria Hingsamer, Gerfried Jungmeier, Dorinde Kleinegris, Maria Barbosa

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference paperAcademicpeer-review


Microalgae are currently considered to be highly attractive as a raw material for production of bioenergy and biomaterials in the future BioEconomy. However, a number of successful developments are still necessary before algae can reach commercial applications. These include the development of commercial production technologies, efficient energy, nutrients and water use, maintenance of stabile production conditions at commercial scale, and cost-competitiveness. The European project “FUEL4ME - Future European League 4 Microalgal Energy” - is driven by the urgent need of transforming the current energy system into a sustainable one, which pursues the European and global energy goals reducing GHG emissions, finding alternatives to fossil fuels and fostering the renewable energies. Microalgae are one of the most attractive sources of liquid transportation biofuels (e.g. biodiesel, hydrotreated vegetable oils (HVO)), since they can produce energy-rich molecules. FUEL4ME is developing and demonstrating an integrated and sustainable process for continuous biofuel production from microalgae, and making the algae-based biofuels (HVO) competitive alternatives to fossil fuels and to contribute to a future BioEconomy. The big challenge for the future large scale and commercial production of algae for transportation biofuels within a BioEconomy is the up-scaling from demo size to commercial size. Therefore a modelling “Algae_Upscale 1.0” of the FUEL4ME process is done for specific parameters (technical, economic, environmental), which are most relevant for the up-scaling of the process; furthermore the modelling results in a framework for a sustainable future commercial HVO production from microalgae. This modelling approach includes the methodologies of Life Cycle Sustainability Assessment (LCSA). Different cases with a production size of 100 kt/a HVO and coproducing PUFA are modelled, as the future commercial algae biofuel production needs huge volumes to receive significance on the energy market. The modelling is used to identify obstacles for an efficient process and helps to guide the development of the FUEL4ME process in the desired direction.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2016
EventEUBCE 2016: 24th European Biomass Conference and Exibition - Amsterdam, Netherlands
Duration: 6 Jun 20169 Jun 2016


ConferenceEUBCE 2016


  • Biofuels
  • Life cycle sustainability assessment
  • Microalgae
  • Modelling
  • Up-scaling


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