Case study

LCA of algae based biofuels

algae biofuel productionAlgae biofuel production

(Demonstration of integrated and sustainable cultivation with biodiesel validation)

This was a European co-funded project involved the design, build and operation of an algae production facility in Olhão, Portugal. Decerna undertook the Life Cycle Assessment in order to understand the range of environmental impacts within the supply chain, and compare this to a fossil fuel alternative.

Outline & objectives

The InteSusAl project involved the production of algae by both heterotrophic and phototrophic routes, and demonstrated integration of these production technologies (Raceway, PhotoBioReactor and Fermentation).

The project selected algae species and cultivation technologies to attain algal oil with a suitable lipid profile for biodiesel production and validated this selection through conversion of extracted oil into biodiesel to meet standard specifications.

Environmental Impacts

Narec DE undertook a detailed ISO 14040/14044 compliant Life Cycle Assessment, comparing the environmental impacts of InteSusAl based algae biofuels against fossil fuel derived diesel. The modelling was undertaken using GaBi with primary data from the facility, secondary data from the Ecoinvent Database. The impact categories considered were ReCiPe Hierarchist Mid Points.

Project Consortium

In addition to Decerna, the consortium included:

  • Centre for Process Innovation (UK) provided enabling technology and IP related to low cost heterotrophic algal cultivation and experience in collaborative project management. CPI were the project coordinator
  • Necton (PT) had prior knowledge of microalgal phototrophic cultivation. The demonstration aspects of the project were be located at their premises, in the Algarve region of Portugal
  • NIOZ (NL) provided expert knowledge on the optimum algae strain selection
  • DLO-FBR (NL) provided a wide ranging knowledge in the industrialisation of algae based processes and separation technology
  • European Renewable Energy Research Centres Agency (BE) undertook the dissemination of the project results

Further information

Further Documents


InteSusAl was co-financed by the 7th  Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (G.A. 268164)

The support of the European Community is gratefully acknowledged.