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Courtesy of Mike Allen and Steve Gschmeissner

Green Chemistry for Blue Pigments: An LCA-based toolkit to support decision making for algal bioprocesses

Principle investigator: Brenda Parker
University College London

Sustainability evaluation in bioprocess design is typically undertaken at the later stages of process development. By this stage, it may be too late to revise the choice of unit operations. For algal-derived products, a calculation of the environmental footprint of the bioprocess at the design stage has two key benefits. Firstly, it helps to validate claims of sustainability for algal products. Secondly, by identifying “hotspots” within the design it enables the company to identify areas for improvement which may also improve economic sustainability. One of the key challenges is process uncertainty and data availability. In particular, the scale up of algal bioprocesses is relatively new, and there are few established downstream processes performed at scale. In order to address this issue, we propose to develop an LCA toolkit coupled with ultrascaledown techniques of key unit operations to estimate windows of operation. Using as a case study the extraction of the valuable blue pigment, phycocyanin from the Spirullina species Arthrospira platensis, we will test our methodology in order to support ScotBio with decision making as they progress towards large-scale production.