This study aims to quantify water appropriation and the potential production of algal bio-oil using freshwater and municipal wastewater effluent (MWW) as an alternative water resource. The county-level analysis focuses on open-pond algae cultivation systems located in 17 states in the southern United States. Several scenarios were developed to examine the water availability for algae bio-oil production under various water resource mixing MWW and freshwater. The results of the analysis indicate that water availability can significantly affect the selection of an algal refinery site and therefore the potential production of algal bio-oil. The production of one liter of algal bio-oil requires 1036–1666 L of water at the state level, in which 3% to 91% can be displaced by MWW, depending on the biorefinery location. This water requirement corresponds to a total of 25 billion liters of bio-oil produced if the spatially and temporally available MWW effluent together with 10% of total available freshwater are used. The production of algal bio-oil is only 14% of estimated production under the assumption that all of the water demand can be fulfilled without any restriction. In addition, if only the spatially and temporally available effluent is used as the sole source of water, the total bio-oil production is estimated to be 9 billion liters. This study not only quantifies the water demands of the algal bio-oil, but it also elucidates the importance of taking water sustainability into account in the development of algal bio-oil.


Environmental Sciences



URL: https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/nrm_fac/99