Techno-economic feasibility analysis of microwave-assisted biorefinery of multiple products from Australian lobster shells

Trung T. Nguyen, Wei Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Commercially valuable proteins, chitin, and minerals of Australian lobster shells were successfully produced with high yields and good quality at laboratory scale using a newly developed microwave-intensified biorefinery process. This study analyses the technical and economic feasibility of upscaling the process to industrial production using a process simulation software, SuperPro Designer. Upscaling is not only technically feasible but also financially profitable regardless of producing multiple products or a single product. At a processing scale of 222.5 tons lobster shells per year (150 kg/batch), total capital investment (TCI) required for the integrated biorefinery process is US$28.3 million compared with US$7.8–12.7 million of the single product production processes. The net present value (NPV) of the integrated biorefinery process reaches US$50.7 million while those NPVs of producing protein, minerals or chitin only are US$30.9 million, US$27.7 million, and US$26.4 million respectively, with all under 2.6 years for the payback time. Sensitivity analysis of the integrated process demonstrated that raw material cost and product price have significant impacts on profitability. The production process is still profitable at the cost of lobster shells up to US$10 per kg and the product selling price down to 25% of the proposed market prices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-433
Number of pages15
JournalFood and Bioproducts Processing
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2020


  • Biorefinery
  • Economic evaluation
  • Lobster extracts
  • Lobster shells
  • Microwave-intensified extraction
  • Process simulation
  • Sensitivity analysis


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