A techno-economic analysis of open pond microalgae biofuels production

J.R. Benemann1, I.C. Woertz1,2, and T.J. Lundquist1,2 1MicroBio Engineering, Inc., and 1,2California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California, USA


Photographs Allowed (or ask for presentation] jbenemann@aol.com


J. Benemann, July 20, St. Louis, MO, Algal BBB

This techno-economic analysis is for a projected near-term 400 ha (1,000 acre) production system in S. California. The 4 ha (10 acre) raceway ponds are paddle wheel mixed; harvesting is by continuous settling (90% efficiency), followed by gravity thickening, solar drying, and hexane extraction of algal oils in a central facility. A productivity of 80 metric tons/ha-yr and a 25% extractable triglyceride content, ~50,000 barrels oil/year, is assumed. Biogas generated from residual biomass is used to generate electricity, with digester effluents recycled for nutrients (C, N, P, etc.) , with make-up water and nutrients supplied from local municipal wastewaters.. The engineering designs and construction costs, based on agricultural engineering practices, are estimated at ~$100 million with operating costs of $6 million per year (after sale of electricity of ~$1 million/yr), or $300/barrel (without wastewater treatment credits). Of this $60/bbl are for labor and $20/bbl for transport to/from the remote oil extraction facility. An on-site extraction process is needed. The main value of such studies is to help focus R&D on key 3 limiting factors and promising approaches for July future cost reductions. J. Benemann, 20, St. Louis, MO, Algal BBB


We need a crystal ball…


J. Benemann, July 20, St. Louis, MO, Algal BBB

Benemann.5 J. Louis. July 20. St. MO. Algal BBB .

Louis. July 20.6 J. St. Algal BBB . Benemann. MO.

Louis.Biofuels Digest.Demo will fly by 2020! 7 J. Benemann. St. MO. Paris Air Show UK-NY in 1 hour: algae-powered rocket plane Airbus . Jim Lane. July 20. 2011. June 21. Algal BBB .

July 20. Louis.8 J. MO. Algal BBB . Benemann. St.

July 20. Benemann.Inoculum Tubes First algal mass culture project (for Chlorella) Plastic bag-type photobioreactors (PBRs) Roof of MIT Building~ 1950 9 J. MO. Louis. Algal BBB . St.

Austin. MO. Louis.2006. Benemann.) Algae Culture from Laboratory to Pilot Plant. Algal BBB . 1953 J. July 20. Stanford 10 Burlew (ed. St. Tx Jack Myers Algae mass culture was first investigated over fifty years ago Carnegie Institute of Washington Algae for Food Project First algae mass culture studies on MIT rooftop Bessel Kok 1956.

A. Louis.25 million/ha Still ~ what we estimate now for PBRs (best case) Thus 11 PBRs not considered herein J. MO. carried out an engineering design-cost estimate for a 40 hectare system of plastic tubes estimating (2008 $) capital cost >$1. St. Little Co. July 20.D. Algal BBB .40 ha design based on 1950’s MIT rooftop plant Fisher (1956). Benemann.

What is the alternative to high cost PBRs? “High Rate Ponds”: shallow raceway mixed ponds. First practical application. Oswald. in early 1960’s at a municipal wastewater treatment plant (Concord. Louis. July 20. with recirculation pump mixing. Developed by Prof. UC Berkeley early 1950s. Benemann. CA) 12 J. Algal BBB . MO. St.

W.During the 1950s Prof. Louis. raceway. July 20. Oswald pioneered “high rate ponds” (HRPs) for low-cost waste water treatment and biofuels production : shallow. slowly mixed ponds in 1970s) (paddle wheel mixing intruduced J. Benemann. St. Algal BBB 13 .J. MO.

Louis. Benemann. ca 1976 1st use paddle-wheels for mixing large ponds (and of “bioflocculation” harvesting) Microactinium 14 J. Sanitary Engineering Research Lab. July 20. Richmond Field Station. Berkeley. Algal BBB . MO. St.U.C.

how much to mix. Algal BBB 15 . weed algae. grazers. St. <50 micron cells) • Cultivation – selected strains. makeJ. how to maximize (light dilution) • Oil production: very high content after N or Si limitation BUT very low productivity – a still unresolved problem • CO2 sources (need). costs (< 500 ppm. etc.THE MAJOR ISSUES IN MICROALGAE CULTIVATION (Most already well enough known in the 1950’s] • Production Systems: Ponds vs.biogas (oil extraction later) Benemann. • Processing – how dry. transfer (a very dismal topic) • Mixing – why mix. Louis. supply. what energy input? • Harvesting – how. MO. July 20. photobioreactors • Productivity (solar conversion efficiency) g/m2-day or tons biomass/hectare-yr.

July 20. raceway ponds. Algal BBB .Cyanotech Co. Louis. Open. algae plant in Hawaii. others Spirulina 16 J. MO. Benemann. Red ponds for Haematococcus pluvialis for astaxanthin. St.

Louis.Bird baths – a selective environement for Haematococcus pluvialis 17 J. Algal BBB . Benemann. July 20. MO. St.

Raceway paddle wheel mixed high rate open ponds now the main (>99%) commercial production systems for microalgae Spirulina 18 J. July 20. St. Louis. Benemann. Algal BBB . MO.

Biodiesel Power Plant with CO2 Scrubber. MO. Algal BBB . 320 kW output can provide all the CO2 needed and most (~80%) of power needed 19 J. Benemann. July 20. St. Louis.

5-8.5 pH range . Benemann. Algal BBB Design specs: 25-35 cm deep 20-30 cm/sec mix Dilute 20-40%/d 20 ~7. July 20. MO. Louis. One Question: how large can we make them? Paddle wheel J. St.Open ponds only option for algal biofuels production or wastewater treatment.

LOWEST COST BIOFUELS PRODUCTION SYSTEM Lamellar settler harvesting Sump for CO2 transfer Paddle wheel Ponds. Investigator: Dr. St. July 20. Algal BBB 21 . Rupert Craggs at NIWA J. 4 ponds Largest algae for biofuels project in world. Christchurch NZ 5 hectares. Benemann. MO. Louis.

St.22 J. Benemann. July 20. MO. Louis. Algal BBB .

Benemann. July 20. St. Algal BBB .25 ha ponds [Rupert Craggs. NZ) 23 J. Louis. NIWA.Schematic of 1. MO.

Weissman. Oswald 1996. T. & W.. J. J. Final Report US DOE.Benemann.C.C. St.R. Goebel. R. J.R. July 20. Oswald. MO. & R. Final Report U. Quinn and J. NTIS #H CP/T1605-01UC-61 (for methane only) What might algae biomass cost to produce? Techno-economic studies of open pond production suggest low costs possible Benemann.P.J. 2010 (see next) Conclusion: algae biofuels maybe possible BUT NEED VERY HIGH 24 PRODUCTIVITIES. Microalgae as a source of liquid fuels. Systems and economic analysis of microalgae ponds for conversion of CO2 to biomass. Pursoff.R. Benemann.. Algal BBB .S.SERI (fo the Aquatic Species Program) Benemann. J. I. Report to US DOE-NETL (National Technology Energy Laboratory) Lundquist. Goebel.DOE BER Weissman. & W. Louis. Engineering Design and Cost Analysis of a Large-Scale Microalgae Biomass System..P. Benemann.C. Augenstein 1982. P. AND MANY OTHER FAVORABLE ASSUMPTIONS J. 1987.. & D. Design and analysis of microalgal open pond systems for the purpose of producing fuels Report to US DOE. J. N. Woertz.J. 1978.

Louis. Algal BBB .. Benemann. St. MO. .5% (Mario Tredici talk at this Conference) 25 J. Straub et al. .) Energy from Biomass (1982) Tetraselmis Oscillatoria Productivity during a continuous cultivation period of 18 months >50 t ha-1 yearPE: ~1. July 20. (eds.

Louis. MO. Benemann.Productivity of Ponds in Calabria (M. Algal BBB One of better examples annual productivity with 26 open ponds . Tredici] m2-d J. St. July 20.

Dunahay. J. Algal BBB 27 . T. MO. Benemann. Louis. Weissman J. Benemann (Principal Investigator) Paul Roessler now at Synthetic Genomics (funded by ExxonMobil where Joe Weissman is) J. Sheehan. P. St.J. Roessler. July 20.

T. 2010 “A Realistic Technology and Engineering Assessment of Algae Biofuel Production”. July 20. Woertz. St.. Benemann. Quinn and J.C. Algal BBB . I. U. Energy Biosciences Inst. Louis. Benemann. N. MO. Berkeley 28 J..REQUIREMENT FOR COMMERCIAL PRODUCTION: Basic Schematic of Algae Biofuels Production based on wastewater inputs for water/nutrients Lundquist.

Algal BBB . Louis. California Imperial Valley 29 J. St.Location of the Proposed Project (Imperial County. July 20. MO. Benemann.

MO. Algal BBB .Coachella Valley Earthrise Imperial Valley 30 J. St. July 20. Benemann. Louis.

5 Dec J. Benemann. July 20.5 2. Louis. Algal BBB .4 1 0.4 3. A lgal  Biom ass   Productivity   (g/ m 2 / hr) 5 4 4 3 3 2 1 1 0 Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug  Sep Oct   Nov 31 4 3.Assumed maximum hourly productivities to size CO2 supply ducts.5 3 2. blowers.5 0. spargers etc. MO. St.

Algal BBB . July 20. 2010: Capital & operating cost estimates based mainly on agricultural. Louis. oil.Lundquist et al. less on civil & not on chemical engineering practices • • • • Construction techniques based on prior experience RS Means Construction Cost Data 2008 Also from recent S. St. California wastewater projects Operating costs from wastewater treatment plants BOTTOM LINE: Algal oil production (no wastewater 32 treatment credits) costs would be ~$300/barrel J. MO. Benemann.

190 Evaporation/ Volatilization (Ave) 32.000 5.560 (Max) 59.700 3.100 5.000 55.000 7.080 2.000 67.890 Natural Gas Supernatant of Gravity Thickener (Max) 41.070 55.300 4.250 3.000 64.710 2° Clarifier Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 6.200 33 J.550 Silo at Pond Site Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) Centralized Solvent Extraction Facility Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) 97 78.000 3.640 Subnatant of Gravity Thickener (Max) 9.700 3. (400 ha algae facility) Unrefined Oil from 1 400-ha Site Q (m3/d) Oil (kg/d) Oil (bbl/d) C (kg/d) 26 23.700 162 11.160 94.600 47.550 4.600 3.400 7.560 38.000 32.280 Electricity (Ave) Electricity From Nat Gas (MWh/d) Electricity From Biogas (MWh/d) 130 71 (Max) 189 101 Q (m3/d) CO2 (kg/d) CH4 (kg/d) CTotal (kg/d) Biogas (Ave) 35.720 406 (Max) 44.900 45.040 1.150 157 75 82 (Max) 10.700 5.000 21.200 51.440 4.900 25. MO.800 224 106 130 Evaporation/ Volatilization Q (m3/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 3.000 71.000 149.060 Dried Algae 72 71.800 (Max) 5.650 (Max) 349.000 64.100 30.000 38.100 5.550 Mass Balance of Carbon.700 45.410 CO2 (kg/d) CO2-C (kg/d) Flue Gas (Ave) 144.320 Blowdown (Ave) 9. Louis.310 2. St.700 45.180 (Max) 4. and Water for Case 5.400 21.100 3.550 (Max) 169 135.730 (Max) 4.690 Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) Q (m3/d) CO2 (kg/d) CO2-C (kg/d) N (kg/d) Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) Make-Up Wastewater Q (m3/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 44. Benemann.370 249 (Max) 4.550 Anaerobic Digester (Ave) Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) 72 71.Detailed C.400 17. wastewater make-up (full view) Algae Settling Supernatant (Ave) 296.490 4.970 7.240 2.000 33.000 4.750 13.740 Drying Beds Digester Effluent Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 3.000 9.900 16.000 7. July 20.980 Algae Gravity Thickener Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 3.370 355 Dried Algae Flakes Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 118 94.000 48.730 (Max) 360.420 2.790 Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 3. N and Water Mass Balance.973 507 Supernatant of Algae Settling (Ave) 305.060 Generator CH4 (kg/d) CH4-C (kg/d) (Ave) 28.470 142.600 (Max) 50.400 23.980 2.400 15.640 99.000 105.330 1. Nitrogen.880 (Max) 207.000 9.700 1. 400 ha system.000 49. Algal BBB .490 2.100 22.000 3.000 5.740 1.400 36.500 135.470 3.100 Evaporation (Ave) Q (m3/d) 22 (Max) 31 Flash Dryer & Silo at Pond Site Spent Algae Spent Algae (Max) 103 101.100 Algae High Rate Ponds Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 312.300 2.800 7.100 6.000 33.080 Total Effluent Subnatant of Algae Settling (Max) 368.

400 21.000 55.240 2.800 7.100 22.400 (Max) 50. Louis.640 2° Clarifier Flue Gas CO2 (kg/d) CO2-C (kg/d) (Ave) 144.Magnification of Mass Balance.490 2.280 (Max) 41. 400 ha system.790 Electricity (Ave) Electricity From Nat Gas (MWh/d) Electricity From 130 71 (Max) 189 101 Q (m3/d) CO2 (kg/d) CH4 (kg/d) Biogas (Ave) 35.400 15. Benemann.000 5.900 34 J. July 20.000 71.000 49.973 507 Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Max) 360.730 Q (m3/d) CO2 (kg/d) CO2-C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Max) 44.000 7.000 149.890 Natural Gas Generator CH4 (kg/d) CH4-C (kg/d) (Ave) 28.470 3. MO.550 4.000 9.000 38.100 30. St.000 105.000 21. Algal BBB .000 32.000 9.400 36.720 406 Supernatant of Algae Settling (Ave) 305.200 51. detail Evaporation/ Volatilization (Ave) 32.710 (Max) 368.880 (Max) 207.320 Total Effluent Algae High Rate Ponds Q (m3/d) Biomass (kg/d) C (kg/d) N (kg/d) (Ave) 312.750 13.

000 1.660.990.000 1.000 1. St.000 338.160. Louis. management: = $33 million needed to construct a 100-ha facility J.000 2. Algal BBB .350. Benemann.900.000 23.227.000 100.000 594.000 316.020.000.000 35 add insurance. engineering.000 120.000 2.410.000 2. contingencies.430.000 1. MO. July 20.Captial  Cost CAPITAL COST FOR A 100 HECTARE FACILITY High rate ponds Digesters Extraction plant share Drying beds Land Electrical Water piping Biogas turbine Flash dryer 2° Clarifiers CO2 delivery Roads + Fencing Thickerners Buildings Silo storage Vehicles Total 3.000 109.000 2.730.000 2.

500 10. July 20.) Maintenance (2% cap. Louis. Benemann.000 465.000 50. St.000 15.$~3 million is the annual O&M cost Operating Expenses Algae facility staff Extraction plant (staff and energy req.000 $ 2.00036 J. MO.000 478.000 12.000 180.000 375. Algal BBB .900.000 379.000 239.) Administrative staff Electricity purchasea Biomass haulingb Insurance Outside lab testing Vehicle maintenance Lab & office supplies Employee training Total operating expenses 694.


MO. Louis. July 20. Algal BBB . St.To increase productivity A WT CM2 CM1 CM1-1 CM7 38 WT Mutant CM3 J. Benemann.

Louis. Algal BBB . St. July 20. Benemann. MO.CHALLENGE: ROTIFERS ( JUST ONE TYPE OF ALGAE GRAZER] Must manage ponds for algal species & culture stability 39 J.

St. July 20. Algal BBB . Benemann.Nature already provides what some want to make (using genetic modifications and synthetic biology) oil globs made by the alga Botryococcus braunii 40 J. MO. Louis.

Benemann. MO. Louis. St. Algal BBB . July 20.WHY I AM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT MICROALGAE FUELS: “ We now have wonderful tools” 41 J.

MO. St. Algal BBB .We seem to have a few problems going from 42 lab-scale to full-scale production J. Benemann. Louis. July 20.

Louis. Benemann. Algal BBB .‘On my planet. St. July 20. we only have one real word: Money’ (everything else are “helper words”) • Cartoon 43 J. MO.

MO. July 20. Louis. St.Greg Mitchell. Benemann. Algal BBB . SIO-UC San Diego SEE YOU IN MINNESOTA. OCT 25-27 44 ALGAL BIOMASS SUMMIT -2011 J.

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