A Perspective on Renewable Bioenergy from Photosynthetic Algae as Feedstock for Biofuels and Bioproducts

Lieve Laurens, Melodie Glasser, James McMillan

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83 Scopus Citations


There has been substantial technical progress in developing algae-based bioenergy in recent years and a large part of industry and academic research and deployment projects have pivoted away from a pure biofuels strategy. This letter summarizes the findings of a recently completed, comprehensive report, that represents a collaborative effort of at least 20 co-authors, where we analyzed the prospects for using microalgae and macroalgae as feedstocks for biofuels and bioenergy production. The scope of this report includes a discussion of international activities advancing bioenergy and non-energy bioproducts from algae, progress on the use of macroalgae (both cast and cultivated seaweeds) for biogas applications, distinct biochemical and thermochemical conversion pathways, multi-product biorefining opportunities, as well as a thorough review of process economics and sustainability considerations. It is envisioned that a higher value algal biomass-based bioproducts industry will provide the additional revenue needed to reduce the net cost of producing algae-based biofuels. As such, a biorefinery approach that generates multiple high-value products from algae will be essential to fully valorize algal biomass and enable economically viable coproduction of bioenergy. To accelerate the implementation of algae-based production, minimizing energy, water, nutrients and land use footprints of integrated algae-based operations needs to be a primary objective of larger scale demonstrations and future research and development.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)261-264
Number of pages4
JournalAlgal Research
Issue numberPart A
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Elsevier B.V.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-68539


  • Algae
  • Biofuels
  • Biomass
  • Bioproducts
  • Biorefinery
  • Conversion
  • Sustainability


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