This project integrated macroalgal biomass production into existing industrial infrastructure for the bioremediation of toxins from wastewater and the reduction of carbon emissions through photosynthesis.
The fundamental driver for the production of high energy fuels is the productivity of macroalgal biomass. This factor had a more significant effect on the production of biocrude due to much larger variance in biomass productivity between species than biocrude yield. Notably, all biocrude produced from macroalgae was similar in biochemical composition and therefore quality. Therefore, the key selection criteria for high energy fuels from macroalgae are the upstream selection of species and these are largely independent of the HTL conversion process and subsequent refining to renewable fuels. Both the conversion process of biomass to biocrude by HTL and the refining of biocrude to renewable high energy fuels are feasible without significant technical hurdles at the pilot scale.
A key driver for the success of the development of high energy fuels from renewable biomass is the ability to deliver an economic product. An important component of this equation is the derivation of the maximum value of the biomass through the delivery of high value co-products. These will provide the major economic return on the production of biomass with the delivery of biocrude being a lesser contributor to the overall value-chain. In addition to co-products there is a tangible economic value to the bioremediation services provided by macroalgae when cultured in targeted water sources rich in nutrients. This integrated model then provides for economic value of macroalgae as both a service and a product. As with co-products, the provision of a bioremediation service will be a key driver for economic feasibility of high energy algal fuels.