Key Targets for Improving Algal Biofuel Production


A number of technological challenges need to be overcome if algae are to be utilized for commercial fuel production. Current economic assessment is largely based on laboratory scale up or commercial systems geared to the production of high value products, since no industrial scale plant exits that are dedicated to algal biofuel. For macroalgae (‘seaweeds’), the most promising processes are anaerobic digestion for biomethane production and fermentation for bioethanol, the latter with levels exceeding those from sugar cane. Currently, both processes could be enhanced by increasing the rate of degradation of the complex polysaccharide cell walls to generate fermentable sugars using specifically tailored hydrolytic enzymes. For microalgal biofuel production, open raceway ponds are more cost-effective than photobioreactors, with CO2 and harvesting/dewatering costs estimated to be ~50% and up to 15% of total costs, respectively. These costs need to be reduced by an order of magnitude if algal biodiesel is to compete with petroleum. Improved economics could be achieved by using a low-cost water supply supplemented with high glucose and nutrients from food grade industrial wastewater and using more efficient flocculation methods and CO2 from power plants. Solar radiation of not 3000 h·yr−1 favours production sites 30° north or south of the equator and should use marginal land with flat topography near oceans. Possible geographical sites are discussed. In terms of biomass conversion, advances in wet technologies such as hydrothermal liquefaction, anaerobic digestion, and transesterification for algal biodiesel are presented and how these can be integrated into a biorefinery are discussed.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Infrastructure and Sustainable Engineering > Chemical Engineering & Applied Chemistry
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > School of Engineering and Technology > Mechanical, Biomedical & Design
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Aston Institute of Urban Technology and the Environment (ASTUTE)
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Aston Institute of Materials Research (AIMR)
College of Engineering & Physical Sciences > Sustainable environment research group
Additional Information: Copyright: © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// 4.0/). Funding: This study was funded by the DST-UKIERI project (Grant Number: DST-UKIERI 18-19-04): Waste to Energy—Low-Temperature Combustion of Sustainable Green Fuels.
Uncontrolled Keywords: biofuels,microalgae,macroalgae,biomethane,bioethanol,biohydrogen,biodiesel,bio-oil,hydrothermal liquefaction,anaerobic digestion
Publication ISSN: 2571-8797
Last Modified: 08 Jul 2024 08:08
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2021 09:21
Full Text Link:
Related URLs: https://www.mdp ... 571-8797/3/4/43 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Review article
Published Date: 2021-10-09
Accepted Date: 2021-09-23
Authors: Griffiths, Gareth (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-7507-6945)
Hossain, Abul Kalam (ORCID Profile 0000-0002-8713-8058)
Sharma, Vikas
Duraisamy, Ganesh



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

| Preview

Export / Share Citation


Additional statistics for this record