An overview on synthesis and design of microalgal biorefinery configurations by employing superstructure-based optimization approach

  • Muhammad Rizwan
  • Ali AlmansooriEmail author
  • Ali Elkamel
Original Paper


A large number of potential technological alternatives exist for the development of microalgal biorefinery to produce a variety of end-products from microalgal biomass and their residues. The design of the promising biorefinery configurations considering preliminary and uncertain nature of technologies is one of the major biorefinery challenges, and it must be addressed systematically. This article presents key issues, challenges and opportunities for the modeling and optimization of microalgae-based biorefinery configurations. It reviews the processing pathways/networks for producing biofuels and various platform chemicals from microalgae with an emphasis on the development of the systematic modeling framework. Superstructure-based modeling and optimization can be a useful tool to identify the optimal/promising biorefinery configurations. Key components of the superstructure-based modeling framework are described, along with a comprehensive review of the existing studies on the superstructure-based optimization of biofuels/bioenergy production from microalgae. This paper also identifies potential perspectives for future research focusing on the application of the superstructure-based approach for the systematic design of sustainable microalgal biorefineries. Perspectives on the future integrated biorefineries considering carbon mitigation as well as heat and power integration are presented. Issues on sustainability and uncertainties modeling in the biorefinery design phase are also discussed.


Microalgae-based biorefinery Biofuels Superstructure-based modeling Process synthesis Optimization 



The authors are thankful to the research office of the Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi for providing the financial support for this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringKhalifa University of Science and Technology, The Petroleum InstituteAbu DhabiUnited Arab Emirates
  2. 2.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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