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Comparison of extraction techniques for product diversification in a supercritical water gasification-based sugarcane-wet microalgae biorefinery: Thermoeconomic and environmental analysis

Albarelli, Juliana Q., Santos, Diego T., Ensinas, Adriano V., Maréchal, François, Cocero, María J., Meireles, M. Angela A.
Journal of cleaner production 2018
bagasse, biomass, biorefining, carbon dioxide, environmental assessment, ethanol, fuel production, gasification, heat, lipids, microalgae, natural gas, proteins, solvents, sugarcane juice, supercritical fluid extraction
This study presents a thermoeconomic and environmental assessment of the extraction of lipids and proteins from wet microalgal biomass in a 3G biorefinery by two different technologies: supercritical fluid extraction (SFE) and low-pressure solvent extraction (LPSE). Simulation tools were used to study a sugarcane biorefinery producing ethanol from sugarcane juice (1G) and bagasse (2G); the microalgal growth in an open pond; and the processing of microalgal biomass into lipids, proteins and synthetic natural gas (SNG). Supercritical water gasification (SCWG) of microalgal biomass enables an increase in biofuel production of 10.2% MJ when no extraction process is considered and of 1.9% MJ when LPSE is considered. The heat demand of the proposed biorefinery with LPSE was increased by 87.8% compared with the demand of the sugarcane biorefinery without microalgal growth and processing. When the SFE process is considered, the heat demand of the overall process increased 3.2 times. SFE for wet microalgae processing is not economically attractive, as it increases the total investment by 71%. The CO2 flow used in the SFE process demonstrated to be a key factor in the thermoeconomic viability of the process. Regarding the wet processing of microalgae prior to SCWG, the best alternative studied was the use of LPSE technology.