Techno-economic assessment of microbial electrosynthesis from CO2 and/or organics: An interdisciplinary roadmap towards future research and application

Ludovic Jourdin*, João Sousa, Niels van Stralen, David P.B.T.B. Strik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Microbial electrosynthesis (MES) allows carbon-waste and renewable electricity valorization into industrially-relevant chemicals. MES has received much attention in laboratory-scale research, although a techno-economic-driven roadmap towards validation and large-scale demonstration of the technology is lacking. In this work, two main integrated systems were modelled, centered on (1) MES-from-CO2 and (2) MES from short-chain carboxylates, both for the production of pure, or mixture of, acetate, n–butyrate, and n–caproate. Twenty eight key parameters were identified, and their impact on techno-economic feasibility of the systems assessed. The main capital and operating costs were found to be the anode material cost (59%) and the electricity consumption (up to 69%), respectively. Under current state-of-the-art MES performance and economic conditions, these systems were found non-viable. However, it was demonstrated that sole improvement of MES performance, independent of improvement of non-technological parameters, would result in profitability. In otherwise state-of-the-art conditions, an improved electron selectivity (≥36%) towards n-caproate, especially at the expense of acetate, was showed to result in positive net present values (i.e. profitability; NPV). Cell voltage, faradaic efficiency, and current density also have significant impact on both the capital and operating costs. Variation in electricity cost on overall process feasibility was also investigated, with a cost lower than 0.045 € kWh−1 resulting in positive NPV of the state-of-the-art scenario. Maximum purification costs were also determined to assess the integration of a product's separation unit, which was showed possible at positive NPV. Finally, we briefly discuss CO2 electroreduction versus MES, and their potential market complementarities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115775
JournalApplied Energy
Volume279
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2020

Keywords

  • CO electroreduction
  • CO valorization
  • Microbial electrosynthesis
  • Organic waste streams valorization
  • Roadmap
  • Techno-economic

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