Life cycle assessment of microalgal membrane photobioreactors
The exploration of new biomass sources for energy purposes is increasing. Cultivation of algal biomass for biofuels production through photobioreactor represents an attractive and useful way to obtain clean energy, also thanks to the contribution that the system makes on the reduction of climate change through the recovery and reuse of CO2. However, to prove the complete sustainability of a system the application of a holistic assessment, like Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology, is necessary. To date LCA is applied through different methodologies, which make evaluations and systems difficult to compare and evaluate. Furthermore only few studies are present in the scientific literature that highlight the parameters used for the evaluation of membrane photobioreactors (mPBR). The research presents and discusses the state-of-the-art of the adopted LCA methodologies to assess mPBR, pointing out strengths and weaknesses. Knowledge gap, uncertainties and recommendations are highlighted. Furthermore, a case study LCA application on an advanced mPBR for the CO2 capture and biomass production is presented. The study provides important information to the different scientists involved in the microalgae production sector in a holistic and proactive view in order to maximize its environmental sustainability.