281773 Comparison of Biocrude From Micro- and Macroalgae
Hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) of algae to a hydrocarbon rich biocrude is growing in popularity primarily because it uses subcritical water as the reaction media eliminating the high energy intensive drying step associated with lipid extraction. HTL efficiently extracts existing lipids in addition to converting other macromolecules such as carbohydrates and proteins to smaller molecules that can be readily upgraded to fuels and other chemicals. Such a process also eliminates the need for a high lipid producing algae and can solely focus on high growth rate algae. Most HTL studies have involved the utilization of microalgae; the few using macroalgae have been marine seaweeds, to our knowledge briocrude has not been produced hydrothermally from fresh water macroalgae.
This study involves pilot scale algae growth tanks utilizing effluent from the second clarifier at the Lawrence, KS wastewater treatment plant. Algae were harvested and hydrothermal treated toward biocrude. Grown under the same conditions both a mixed-culture microalgae and macroalgae identified as Cladophora sp. were studied. Hydrothermal treatment was performed with 3g of freeze dried algae and 50mL of water at 350°C for 1 hour. The starting algae and product yields were evaluated on an ash free dry weight basis. High oil yields were obtained for both the micro- and macroalgae (54% and 57%) but had significant chemical and physical differences. Residual solids were determined to have higher heating values of 12.4 and 10.8 MJ/Kg for micro- and macroalgae, respectively. Aqueous co-products had carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus concentrations of 3100-4000 ppm, 1200-1600 ppm, and 3.5 ppm respectively. The biocrude produced was very similar to that of petroleum crude in terms of energy density (39-42 MJ/Kg) and elemental percentages of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen.
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