(497d) Synthesis of Value Chains Towards Flexible Algae Biorefineries Under Uncertainty

Authors: 
Psycha, M., National Technical University of Athens
Kokossis, A. C., National Technical University of Athens
The synthesis of algal biorefineries is challenging in bringing forward value chains rich in high-value specialty products with short life cycles, volatile markets and unknown and/or equally volatile prices. The complexity of the incentive is compounded by competitive and alternative choices of chemistries and chemicals with unknown thermodynamic properties.

The work addresses current issues in algal biorefinery systems following a multi-layer methodology based on optimization, design and knowledge engineering. The synthesis of value chains is generic against a background of 15 products and 12 technologies. By employing mathematical modeling, superstructures of potential processing paths and product portfolios are constructed according to customized constraints. The approach offers high-capacity screening with featuring techno-economic, environmental, market and business-related criteria. The work hosts models of different scales, enables bounds on the number of options to screen and delivers the best set of solutions according to each different criterion.

Further integration of synthesis with process design is also important. Scaling up algal biorefineries is challenging especially due to volatile microalgae productivities (location, environmental conditions, seasonality etc.). One is interested in the design of flexible plants that adjust production according to market needs. Feasible options are investigated in strong interactions with real-life applications that include studies of stand-alone as well as integrated processes. Conceptual and commercial tools are employed in order to fathom the overall biorefinery plant. Scenarios are studied which are aligned with different market sectors (pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, food industry and cosmetics). The economic potential of algae biorefineries is highlighted following the assessment of potential investments which vary in terms of processes and product portfolios.