Value-added Chemicals from Microalgae: A Sustainable Process Design Using Life Cycle Optimization

Jian Gong, Fengqi You*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


This paper addresses the sustainable design and synthesis of producing biofuels and bioproducts from microalgae. We propose a comprehensive superstructure with multiple technology alternatives in the seven processing sections. The major products of the superstructure are biodiesel, hydrogen, propylene glycol, glycerol-tert-butyl ether, and poly-3-hydroxybutyrate. Following the life cycle optimization methodology, we propose a bi-criteria mixed-integer nonlinear programming problem to simultaneously optimize the environmental and economic performance. We apply a tailored global optimization algorithm to efficiently tackle the separable concave terms and fractional terms in the objective functions. The most environmentally sustainable processes with respect to various algal bioproducts reduce the life cycle greenhouse gas emissions by 5% to 63%, compared with petrochemical counterparts. Moreover, the minimum biodiesel production cost is $2.79 per gasoline-gallon-equivalent, if all byproducts and value-added bioproducts are considered as credits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1403-1408
Number of pages6
JournalComputer Aided Chemical Engineering
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Algal biofuels
  • Bioproduct
  • Global optimization
  • Glycerol
  • Life cycle analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Computer Science Applications


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