The goal of this thesis was to perform a techno-economic analysis of a seaweed polysaccharide extraction process that could estimate how economically viable it would be to harvest and process seaweed in Maine to produce algal polysaccharides. I pursued two investigations to answer this question:
First, I continued the research I have been doing on an EPSCoR SEANET funded undergraduate research team working on the extraction and fractionation of sugar kelp (Saccharina Latissima) to produce three different separated polysaccharides: alginate, laminarin, and fucoidan. My contributions to this project were primarily to hydrolyze whole pieces of seaweed and extracted samples and quantify their saccharide composition by running the hydrolysates through HPLC. I also prepared samples for elemental analysis by ICP-MS and contributed to tasks associated with the extraction and fractionation work. The seaweed samples we used were harvested from various locations along the Maine coast and collected at different harvest times. Each of these samples were analyzed individually. In this way we could determine the relative amounts of each type of polysaccharide in the different samples.
Second, I constructed a process model of our extraction process in the modeling software program ASPEN Plus. A principle task in constructing the model was to translate our multi step batch processes used in the laboratory into a continuous unit operations-based model. I used this model to develop financial viability criteria for the economics of extracting polysaccharides from Maine seaweeds. The desired output of the model was to generate estimated values of the harvested seaweeds to a potential seaweed harvester in Maine.
Applebee, Zachary, "Techno-Economic Analysis of a Seaweed Extraction Process" (2019). Honors College. 492.