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Bioresour Technol. 2011 Jan;102(1):50-6. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2010.06.048. Epub 2010 Jul 1.

Life cycle assessment of biodiesel production from microalgae in ponds.

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Energy Transformed Flagship, Division of Marine and Atmospheric Research, Centre for Australian Weather and Climate Research, CSIRO, PB1, Aspendale VIC 3125, Australia.


This paper analyses the potential environmental impacts and economic viability of producing biodiesel from microalgae grown in ponds. A comparative Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of a notional production system designed for Australian conditions was conducted to compare biodiesel production from algae (with three different scenarios for carbon dioxide supplementation and two different production rates) with canola and ULS (ultra-low sulfur) diesel. Comparisons of GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions (g CO(2)-e/tkm) and costs (¢/tkm) are given. Algae GHG emissions (-27.6 to 18.2) compare very favourably with canola (35.9) and ULS diesel (81.2). Costs are not so favourable, with algae ranging from 2.2 to 4.8, compared with canola (4.2) and ULS diesel (3.8). This highlights the need for a high production rate to make algal biodiesel economically attractive.

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