Date of Award

2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.Sc.

Department

Mechanical, Automotive, and Materials Engineering

First Advisor

Tam, Edwin

Keywords

Applied sciences, Biodiesel, Life cycle analysis, Microalgae

Rights

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

Abstract

This research develops a Life Cycle Analysis framework for evaluating the sustainability performance within the microalgae industry for producing biodiesel. The industry is now so extensive that an LCA framework is needed as a guide. The microalgae biodiesel industry varies considerably in configuration design and output. The industry is rapidly developing and growing and needs an LCA tool to keep pace with assessing its benefits and impacts. Disruptive technologies in extraction and synthesis can increase the economic viability and catapult microalgae biodiesel as a true competitor in the fuel market. An assessment of environmental impacts is essential, with particular emphasis on the trade-offs of microalgae biodiesel production because of potential risks, such as when using GMO-algae. Industry trends were coupled with LCAs from literature to develop an industry benchmark and LCA framework. Industry benchmarks can act as an anchor for transparent and explicit comparison of LCAs. An LCA framework was shown to be beneficial in rapidly evaluating a design configuration for the microalgae biodiesel industry. More research is necessary in generating benchmarks for economics, water use, and other emissions as there is currently not enough data.

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