Development of Algae Biorefinery Concepts for Biofuels and Bioproducts; A Perspective on Process-Compatible Products and Their Impact on Cost-Reduction

Lieve M.L. Laurens, Jennifer Markham, David W. Templeton, Earl D. Christensen, Stefanie Van Wychen, Eric W. Vadelius, Melodie Chen-Glasser, Tao Dong, Ryan Davis, Philip T. Pienkos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

176 Scopus Citations

Abstract

Identifying and addressing critical improvements in biomass, bioproduct and biofuel productivity is a priority for the nascent algae-based bioeconomy. Economic and sustainability principles should guide these developing improvements and help to unravel the contentious water-food-energy-environment nexus that algae inhabit. Understanding the biochemistry of the storage carbon metabolism of algae to produce biofuels and bioproducts can bring to light the key barriers that currently limit the overall carbon efficiency and the photosynthetic efficiency, and ultimately guide productivity and commercial viability in the context of limiting resources. In the analysis reported here, we present different potential pathways for a conceptual algae biorefinery framework, with each pathway addressing one of the main identified barriers to future deployment. We highlight the molecular identification, in the form of an extensive literature review, of potential bioproducts that may be derived directly from both biomass and fractions produced through a conversion pathway, for three important commercially-relevant genera of algae, Scenedesmus, Chlorella and Nannochloropsis. We establish a relationship between each of the potential bioproducts, describe relevant conversion and extraction processes, and discuss market opportunities with values and sizes as they relate to commercial development of the products.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1716-1738
Number of pages23
JournalEnergy and Environmental Science
Volume10
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Royal Society of Chemistry 2017.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-68977

Keywords

  • algae
  • biofuels
  • biomass
  • bioproducts
  • biorefinery

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