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Energy Balance, Utilisation of Nutrients, and Uptake of Metals for Wastewater for Algae to Energy Production: An Algal Bioenergy Technology Assessment

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Melbourne Water has developed a Greenhouse and Energy Strategy (GES) to achieve its stated organisational goals of being zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2018 and boost the use or export of renewable energy to 100% of total energy used by 2018. An engineering analysis was conducted to determine feasibility of algal energy production at its facilities. Proven methods of algae biomass production, harvesting, and energy extraction were chosen for this analysis for methane and biofuels production. Analyses produced negative energy balances for proven technologies because of large parasitic energy demands inherent at various stages of the process. In all cases carbonation of water with CO2 for autotrophic algae production was a large parasitic energy demand. Biofuel production requires heat for drying of biomass, which was also a large energy demand. Although somewhat speculative, mixotrophic production of methane appears to offer an opportunity to achieve a positive energy balance.

Keywords: Algal bioenergy; Wastewater; nutrient and metals uptake and fate; water utility; zero net greenhouse gas emissions

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2011-01-01

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