Algal Pretreatment Improves Biofuels Yield and Value

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


One of the major challenges associated with algal biofuels production in a biorefinery-type setting is improving biomass utilization in its entirety, increasing the process energetic yields and providing economically viable and scalable co-product concepts. We demonstrate the effectiveness of a novel, integrated technology based on moderate temperatures and low pH to convert the carbohydrates in wet algal biomass to soluble sugars for fermentation, while making lipids more accessible for downstream extraction and leaving a protein-enriched fraction behind. This research has been highlighted in the Green Chemistry journal article mentioned above and a milestone report, and is based on the work the researchers are doing for the AOP projects Algal Biomass Conversion and Algal Biofuels Techno-economic Analysis. That work has demonstrated an advanced process for algal biofuel production that captures the value of both the algal lipids and carbohydrates for conversion to biofuels. With this process, as much as 150 GGE/ton of biomass can be produced, 2-3X more than can be produced by terrestrial feedstocks. This can also reduce the cost of biofuel production by as much as 40%. This also represents the first ever design case for the algal lipid upgrading pathway.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2015

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5100-64110


  • algal biofuels
  • biomass
  • carbohydrates
  • green chemistry
  • pretreatment
  • yield and value


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