Torrefaction is a thermochemical process used to convert the biomass into solid fuel. In this study, torrefaction increased the raw microalgal biomass’ energy content from 20.22 MJ⋅kg−1 to 27.93 MJ⋅kg−1. To determine if more energy is produced than energy consumption from torrefaction, this study identified the energy balance of torrefied microalgal biomass production based on a life cycle approach. The energy analysis showed that, among all processes, torrefaction had the least amount of energy demand. The experimental setup, defined as scenario A, revealed that the principal source of energy demand, about 85%, was consumed on the microalgal growth using a photobioreactor system. A sensitivity analysis was also performed to determine the varying energy demand for torrefied microalgal biomass production. The different types of cultivation methods and various production scales were considered in scenarios B to D. Scenario D, which represented the commercial production-scale, the energy demand drastically decreased by 59.46% as compared to the experimental setup (scenario A). The open-pond cultivation system resulted in the least energy requirement, regardless of the production scale (scenarios B and C) among all the given scenarios. Unlike scenarios A and D, scenarios B and C identified the drying process to consume a high amount of energy. All the scenarios have shown an energy demand deficit. Therefore, efforts to decrease the energy demand on the upstream processes are needed to make the torrefied microalgal biomass a viable alternative energy source.
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