Using a commercially scalable system designed for processing thousands of liters a day, here we evaluated the factors that affected the performance, energy consumption and capital/operating costs of both flocculation-based and filtration-based algal harvesting systems over a 16 month period. Coagulation efficiency was the primary driver of harvest efficiency in the flocculation-based method, while cell lysis was important for the filtration-based method. Culture (algae) age differentially influenced harvest efficiency through changes in cell fragility and stickiness. The average energy consumption of the flocculation-based method was 0.389 kWh/m3, while that for the filtration-based method was 4.343 kWh/m3. The average harvesting cost of the filtration-based method was 5.35 $/m3, while for flocculation-based method it was 4.52 $/m3. The concentration factor of filtration-based and flocculation-based method were 770–1086 and 407–448, respectively. For both harvesting methods, labor costs dominated and ranged from 55.84%–67.94% of total cost. Further system automation is a potential method to lower the harvesting cost. The filtration-based harvesting method could produce a better quality of algal biomass with higher concentration factors and less ash content, but needed more energy input, as compared with a flocculation-based method. This study highlights the importance of algal culture status to successful harvesting, and it also provides insight into developing more efficient harvesting technology with lower energy and capital cost.
Lu Z, Beal CM, Johnson ZI (2022). Comparative performance and technoeconomic analyses of two microalgae harvesting systems evaluated at a commercially relevant scale. Algal Research 64: 102667. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.algal.2022.102667