Research Seminar Gwenny Thomassen
20 jan 2017 16.00 uur - 18.00 uur
Campus Diepenbeek - Auditorium H2
Algae: Can the green gold live up to its promise?
The promise of algae sounds great: clean energy based on plant-like organisms. However, although the research on algae has been going on for decades, we don’t see any algae-based fuels yet. To live up to its promise, algae biofuels would have to become feasible in three dimensions: 1) A technological feasible value chain is required, starting from algae cultivation until the end product; 2) This end product needs to be economically viable; 3) the environmental impact needs to be sufficient low to enable a ‘green’ reputation. For algae biofuels, this does not seem to work. The production costs are still too expensive too compete with other fuels.
However, the green gold does not only produce energy. Algae can accumulate multiple sorts of valuable compounds. Valorization of these compounds in an algae-based biorefinery could increase the profits. However, this technology also needs to be technologically, economically and environmentally feasible.
With our environmental techno-economic assessment (ETEA) we can assess these three dimensions in an integrated way. As algae-based biorefinery is still a technology in development, no final answer can be given to the question “can it be feasible?”. However, a more relevant question at this point would be “how can it become feasible?”. Based on specific technology recommendations, the time to market for this technology could decrease. And who knows, maybe we will end up in an algae world after all.
Slegers, 2014. Refinery of microalgae into a wide variety of products. In: Scenario studies for algae production