The use of hydrothermal carbonization to recycle nutrients in algal biofuel production

Robert B. Levine, Christian O.Sambolin Sierra, Ryan Hockstad, Wassim Obeid, Patrick G. Hatcher, Phillip E. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The high fertilizer demand for biodiesel production from microalgae is a significant challenge facing the commercialization of this promising technology. We investigated a processing strategy called hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) to convert wet algal biomass into a lipid-rich hydrochar and aqueous phase (AP) co-product. By reacting biomass at 200°C for 15 min, about 50% of the algae biomass became a solid hydrochar and roughly 40-70% of the C, N, and P in the reactant material dissolved into the AP. For the first time, an AP co-product of this nature was analyzed by HPLC, GC-MS and FT-ICR-MS to identify and characterize the dissolved organic matter. Using a unique marine bi-culture suspected to contain a green algae (Nannochloris) and a cyanobacteria (Synechocystis), we demonstrated that this AP co-product can support biomass growth better than a medium containing only inorganic nutrients. To manage unwanted contamination and optimize AP utilization, we employed a two-stage growth process and fed-batch additions of the AP co-product. The effect of media recycling and nutrient supplementation, as well as a production model for a large-scale facility, are discussed. Our work suggests that HTC can play a critical role in making algal biorefineries more sustainable by obviating biomass drying for fuel processing and recycling nutrients. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 32: 962-975, 2013

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)962-975
Number of pages14
JournalEnvironmental Progress and Sustainable Energy
Volume32
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 29 2013

Fingerprint

Biofuels
Carbonization
biofuel
Nutrients
Biomass
nutrient
biomass
Algae
Recycling
recycling
Fertilizers
commercialization
Processing
Biodiesel
green alga
dissolved organic matter
Biological materials
Lipids
cyanobacterium
Drying

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Science(all)

Cite this

Levine, Robert B. ; Sierra, Christian O.Sambolin ; Hockstad, Ryan ; Obeid, Wassim ; Hatcher, Patrick G. ; Savage, Phillip E. / The use of hydrothermal carbonization to recycle nutrients in algal biofuel production. In: Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy. 2013 ; Vol. 32, No. 4. pp. 962-975.
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The use of hydrothermal carbonization to recycle nutrients in algal biofuel production. / Levine, Robert B.; Sierra, Christian O.Sambolin; Hockstad, Ryan; Obeid, Wassim; Hatcher, Patrick G.; Savage, Phillip E.

In: Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy, Vol. 32, No. 4, 29.07.2013, p. 962-975.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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