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Development of a new route for direct conversion of wet algae to biodiesel

Galileu Speranza, Lais (2017)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Algae have been studied as a potential biodiesel feedstock by identifying on a global scale suitable cultivation locations for three specific cases (EU, US and Brazil) based on the area requirements.
A direct conversion of oil harvested from wet algae to biodiesel was undertaken using ethanol at supercritical conditions, eliminating the use of catalyst, feedstock drying and the oil extraction steps.
Chlorella vulgaris with 7.3% wt. lipid content was characterised (by elemental, chemical and thermal analyses) and used to assess the supercritical ethanol approach. A biodiesel yield of 47.5% wt. was achieved in a flow reactor at 260°C, 75 bar, aqueous algae concentration of 6 mg·mL-1 and 2 mL·min-1 flowrate. This result demonstrates the advantages of the flow reactor over a batch process where the maximum biodiesel yield was 26% wt. after 6 hours.
A life cycle analysis of the proposed route showed that biodiesel yield must exceed 60% wt. to make the process competitive when compared to the traditional route of oil extraction and catalyst transesterification adopted to algae biodiesel production. In comparison to the soybean biodiesel, the use of algae as feedstock would not be justified unless improvements to reduce energy consumption are made.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Leeke, Gary and Ingram, Andy
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Department:Chemical Engineering
Additional Information:

Publications resulting from research:

Speranza, Lais Galileu, Andrew Ingram, and Gary A. Leeke. "Assessment of algae biodiesel viability based on the area requirement in the European Union, United States and Brazil." Renewable Energy 78 (2015): 406-417.
doi: 10.1016/j.renene.2014.12.059

Subjects:TP Chemical technology
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:7591
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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