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Conceptual process design and simulation of microalgae oil -conversion to aviation fuel


Conceptual process design and simulation of microalgae oil -conversion to aviation fuel



Biofuels Bioproducts and Biorefining-Biofpr 12(6): 935-948



ISSN/ISBN: 1932-104X

DOI: 10.1002/bbb.1890

Microalgae oil can be converted into aviation fuel to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and decrease the carbon footprint. This could be a significant step toward sustainable energy resources that have the potential to produce 'drop-in' fuels. Algae-based fuels are potential substitutes for fossil fuels due to the quality of their crude oil. However, this is only possible if appropriate conversion processes are undertaken. Conversely, microalgae species have low lipid content and biomass harvesting is still an energy-demanding process. In this study, a conceptual design is developed for the conversion of microalgae oil to jet fuel. It is based on a process undertaken in the laboratory using a species named Nannochloropsis sp. Nutrients and CO2 were supplied to the growing culture for effective growth. Biomass harvesting was completed on the tenth day of the growth cycle. It was followed by physiological modification to improve lipid content. Finally, crude oil extraction was followed by bio-oil hydrocracking at 350 degrees C, and fractionation of cracked bio-oil between 70 and 300 degrees C to separate light-, middle-, and heavy-end hydrocarbons for use in the production of jet fuel. During simulation, reforming and upgrading processes were added to the design to enhance the quality of the jet fuel to be produced on large scale in the future. The study, including the results, suggests that it is technically feasible to convert microalgae oil into jet fuel because of the similarity between algae bio-oil and petroleum crude oil.

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