Algal Harvesting for Biodiesel Production: Comparing Centrifugation and Electrocoagulation
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Electrocoagulation was compared to centrifugation at pilot scale for harvesting Nannochloris oculata and Nannochloropsis salina for biodiesel production. The pilot scale testing is a proof of concept and no optimization was conducted. Testing used the KASELCO commercial electrocoagulation system. The KASELCO electrocoagulation system successfully coagulated microalgae in laboratory testing. Aluminum and stainless steel electrodes successfully recovered algae in laboratory testing. Electricity consumed was lowest using aluminum electrodes in laboratory testing, but inconsistently coagulated microalgae at the pilot scale. Stainless steel electrodes consistently recovered algae and were selected as the primary electrode to treat microalgae at the pilot scale. Scaling power settings to pilot testing using laboratory data was successful following KASELCO’s proprietary guidelines. The KASELCO electrocoagulation system showed an electrical reduction in pilot scale operational cost for harvesting. Economic analysis using the Algae Income Simulation Model concluded that the KASELCO electrocoagulation system increase net present value of a commercial algae farm by $56,139,609 using a discount factor of 0.04. The KASELCO electrocoagulation system was calculated to use 26 kWh/ton at a commercial algae farm. However, cultivation and extraction processes are energy intensive, resulting in minimal electrical savings for the algae farm. The increase in net present value reduced production costs at the algae farm by 1%. The probability of success for the microalgae farm was zero for all scenarios analyzed. While a reduction in capital and operational costs were observed, several improvements, including harvesting using electrocoagulation, in cultivation, extraction, and conversion are necessary for economic success for biodiesel production using algae farms.
Kovalcik, Derek John (2013). Algal Harvesting for Biodiesel Production: Comparing Centrifugation and Electrocoagulation. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from