Economic and technological assessments have identified difficulties with the commercialization of bulk products from microalgae, like biofuels. To overcome these problems, a multi-product algal-based biorefinery has been proposed. This paper performs a techno-economic assessment of such a biorefinery. Four production pathways, ranging from a base case with commercial technologies to an improved case with innovative technologies, are analyzed. All region-specific parameters were adapted to Belgian conditions. Three scenarios result in techno-economically
viable production plants. The most profitable scenario is the scenario which uses a specialized membrane for medium recycling and an open pond algae cultivation. Although the inclusion of a photobioreactor decreases the culture medium costs, the higher investment costs result in lower economic profits. The carotenoid content and price are identified as critical parameters. Furthermore, the economies of scale assumption for the photobioreactor is critical for the feasibility of this cultivation technology. The techno-economic assessment is an important methodology to guide and evaluate further improvements in research and shorten the time-to-market for innovative technologies in this field.
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