Harvesting and extraction technology contributions to algae biofuels economic viability
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2014 Elsevier B.V. The impacts of alternative harvesting and extraction technologies on the economic and financial feasibility of an algal farm are analyzed. Two harvesting technologies and three extraction technologies are compared as to their impacts on the revenues, expenses, and cost of production for an algal farm. Analysis is completed using the Farm-level Algae Risk Model (FARM) to simulate the economic feasibility and probabilistic cost of algal lipid production for the farms with alternative technologies. The economic analysis incorporates production, price, and financial risks algal farms will likely face over a 10-year period. The baseline harvesting system, centrifuge, is compared to the electrocoagulation (EC) system. For extraction a wet solvent system is postulated as the baseline and is compared to the Hydrothermal Liquefaction-Catalytic Hydrothermal Gasification (HTL-CHG) and pyrolysis systems. Results indicate that each of the new technologies is an improvement over the baseline. The combination of the most promising harvesting and extraction systems shows a 64% improvement in net present value (NPV) and a 90% reduction in the cost of producing lipid compared to the baseline.