Microalgae dewatering is one of the major process bottlenecks in terms of energy and cost, hindering further development of microalgae biofuels. Membrane filtration has the potential to overcome many drawbacks of conventional dewatering technologies. The major focus of this review is to evaluate the current state-of-the-art of membrane filtration technologies as well as to identify the factors that affect efficiency. The major metrics pertaining to system performance have been identified and compared across four membrane system configurations - cross-flow, submerged, dynamic, and forward osmosis. Previous reported life cycle impacts of various algae dewatering technologies were also examined and compared. The review revealed that trade-offs exist between different membrane configurations, yet there is limited understanding on the mechanisms, performance, and environmental implications of these algae dewatering systems. Further experimental and life cycle assessment studies are necessary to draw conclusions as to the most preferable configurations. The field would also greatly benefit from consistency in research and reporting frameworks.
- Algae dewatering
- Membrane dewatering impact factor
- Membrane filtration
- Membrane performance metrics
- Microalgae biofuel