Technical-economic feasibility study of the installation of biodiesel from microalgae crops in the Atacama Desert of Chile

C. Santander, P. A. Robles, L. A. Cisternas, M. Rivas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


In the last decade, there has been a remarkable advance in the development of biodiesel from raw materials, highlighting various studies on the use of microorganisms such as bacteria, yeast and microalgae. A process flow sheet for biodiesel production from microalgae Botryococcus braunii under alkaline conditions on a commercial scale was developed. Detailed operating conditions and equipment designs for this process were obtained. A technological assessment of this process was conducted to evaluate the technical benefits and limitations. Parameters investigated in the sensitivity analysis were the selling price of biodiesel, oil prices fed, credit glycerin and discount rate, which proved to be the most significant variables affecting the economic viability of the process. These parameters were analyzed using statistical analysis with an experimental design. Economic evaluation of the transesterification process with a base catalysis from microalgae (75,000 tons/year) was performed. The net present value of the process is MUS $ 159.12, the positive value of the net income, for a number of periods equal to 15 years, and a discount rate of 12%, indicated that the project is profitable. The alkali-catalyzed transesterification process using microalgae proved to be technically feasible, thereby making it a competitive alternative to current commercial productions of biodiesel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)267-276
Number of pages10
JournalFuel Processing Technology
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Biodiesel
  • Botryococcus braunii
  • Microalgae
  • Process design
  • Transesterification


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