The economics of microalgae oil

  • Richardson J
  • Outlaw J
  • Allison M
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Abstract

A Monte Carlo simulation model for a commercial-scale microal- gae farm in the US desert Southwest was developed and used to compare costs of producing algal oil with two levels of tech- nology. Ranges of input and output coefficients in the microal- gae literature were used to simulate a farm using conventional wisdom regarding production and extraction. An alternative sce- nario was simulated using experimental data for an actual microalgae farm in the Southwest. The total costs of algal oil ranged from $0.85 to $3.67/pound, with an average of $1.61 (with by-product credits) for the conventional wisdom input/out- put coefficients. The costs using the test farms coefficients ranged from $0.15 to $0.45/pound, with a mean of $0.25 (with by-product credits). Improvements in algae strains, feeding, CO2 efficiency, and harvesting are responsible for the improved cost efficiency on the test farm.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Cost algal oil
  • Economic viability
  • Microalgae oil
  • Simulation

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Authors

  • James W. Richardson

  • Joe L. Outlaw

  • Marc Allison

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