Matias Boll - PhD Defense

March 8, 12:30pm - 1:30pm
Mānoa Campus, Sherman 103 Conference Room Add to Calendar

The role of microalgae as biodiesel feedstock: Economics, agro-energy competitiveness and potential regional impacts on agricultural feedstock production in a tropical setting

Policymakers the world over are gravitating towards renewable bioenergy options to tackle the rising cost of fossil fuels, reduce the dependence on imported oil, address environmental concerns and provide new employment and income opportunities. Agro-energy, e.g., biofuel dedicated plantations, is the handy and logical alternative to rapidly enhance biofuel production. Its closeness with the staple food production chains and the significant volumes of energy demanded in modern economies, however, raised concerns that agro-energy based biofuels could significantly impact cropland use and agricultural feedstock prices. Microalgae have been considered as an alternative biodiesel feedstock source due its theoretically high photovoltaic efficiency, reduced cropland demand and the lack of direct conflicts with the staple food sector.

This seminar presents Boll's dissertation results where three aspects of the potential role of microalgae based biodiesel were investigated. These are: i) a realistic cost estimation for large-scale open pond microalgae production; ii) a comparative study among microalgae and six traditional oily crops regarding their sustainability when channeled to the biodiesel production chain; and iii) a cropland allocation model intended to help decision makers to forge a balanced assessment on the impacts associated with biofuel promotion and agricultural feedstock production at the regional scale. Considering a ten years time frame, the model is applied to project the impacts of four scenarios, including both microalgae and traditional oily crops as biodiesel feedstock. The target region in the study is the Northeast Region of Brazil (NER), where the Brazilian government plans to maximize the social benefits of biodiesel feedstock production in the country. Compromise programming is used to arrive at a more balanced scenario of three conflicting objectives, namely the maximization of staple food, agricultural export commodity and biofuel sectors returns to the target region.

Event Sponsor
Natural Resources & Environmental Management, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Lois Agena, 956-7530,

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