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Delving into the economic and sustainability assessment of the ALGECO products

A core part of the ALGECO project is understanding the environmental and economic aspects of the new products under development. In work package 5 (WP5), we have the responsibility to understand how the ALGECO concepts benefits the environment and how this production can offer commercial value through sustainability assessments and techno-economic assessments.


Our sustainability assessment work primarily involves determining environmental impacts and benefits of processes in the ALGECO project by collecting information on the main material flows (inputs, outputs and wastes), energy inputs, and life cycle emissions of product outputs. The data collected comes from ALGECO laboratory work in WP2, WP3, and WP4, but will also focus on what processes are required for upscaling in the future (see the ALGECO project structure page for more information on how the project is organized). The main products being tested for the ALGECO project are microalgae for enhanced plant growth, biochar for soil amendment, and bio-based fertilizer, with varying pathways for production, which are assessed for their overall sustainability in WP5. This also includes accounting for the environmental benefits (i.e. reduced unwanted nutrients released in wastewater treatment, improved soil, and avoided production of mineral fertilizers). Our current work involves continuous data collection from partners, site visits, and determining reasonable pathways for upscaling, which can be included in our life cycle assessment model.


WP5 visits NIVA's research station at Solbergstrand summer 2023

The basic techno-economic assessment works in a similar way to the sustainability assessment, but we are interested in the costs and potential revenues. The costs are based on upscaling the ALGECO process for integration in industrial context, while the potential revenues are based on consumer willingness to pay for products and others comparable on the market. This involves surveys on consumer willingness to pay, determining a price for which the ALGECO products can be reasonably sold, and the assumption of those as a new revenue stream to Veas and other wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) that could potentially commercialise this technology. In the next few months, our work will investigate these issues through surveys to potential consumers.


Example of the data being collected in WP5 for the sustainability assessment and techno-economic assessment

In other WP5 news, we are excited to introduce the newest member of our team, Chloe Depledge. Chloe has been working as a research assistant at the University of Agder since the fall of 2022 on topics related to life cycle assessment, economic innovation, and policy assessment within the realm of circular economy. Chloe will help WP5 develop the techno-economic and social policy assessments of ALGECO products.


Newest member of the ALGECO team, Chloe Depledge

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