Comprehensive techno-economic analysis of wastewater-based algal biofuel production: A case study

Chunhua Xin, Min M. Addy, Jinyu Zhao, Yanling Cheng, Sibo Cheng, Dongyan Mu, Yuhuan Liu, Rijia Ding, Paul Chen, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Scopus citations


Combining algae cultivation and wastewater treatment for biofuel production is considered the feasible way for resource utilization. An updated comprehensive techno-economic analysis method that integrates resources availability into techno-economic analysis was employed to evaluate the wastewater-based algal biofuel production with the consideration of wastewater treatment improvement, greenhouse gases emissions, biofuel production costs, and coproduct utilization. An innovative approach consisting of microalgae cultivation on centrate wastewater, microalgae harvest through flocculation, solar drying of biomass, pyrolysis of biomass to bio-oil, and utilization of co-products, was analyzed and shown to yield profound positive results in comparison with others. The estimated break even selling price of biofuel ($2.23/gallon) is very close to the acceptable level. The approach would have better overall benefits and the internal rate of return would increase up to 18.7% if three critical components, namely cultivation, harvest, and downstream conversion could achieve breakthroughs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)584-593
Number of pages10
JournalBioresource Technology
StatePublished - Jul 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was in part supported by China Scholarship council (201406435009), National Natural Science Foundation of China (71303235), Program of Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2014DFA61040, 2015DFA60170, 2014AA022002), Beijing Natural Science Foundation of China (KZ201411417038), Jiangxi Major Projects (GCXZ2014-124 100102102082), and USDA, USDOT/DOE Sun Grants, Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund (ENRTF), and University of Minnesota MNDrive, Serendipity Grant, Institute on the Environment, and Center for Biorefining.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Algal biofuel
  • Centrate wastewater
  • Microalgae
  • Pyrolysis
  • Techno-economic analysis


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