Algae are being explored as a sustainable energy feedstock, having potential to reduce dependence on petrofuels and offset greenhouse gas emissions. Economic considerations and principles of green design suggest that if algae-to-fuel technology is to be successful, biofuels must be produced simultaneously with value-added co-products. At present, the algae industry is centered around a limited number of products, such as low-volume/high-value speciality nutrients. New products for medium- and high-volume markets will be needed as biomass production increases in scale. This Perspective highlights non-fuel applications of algal biomass that have received relatively little attention to date but are promising for future development. It is our goal to draw attention to some of the unique opportunities that algae present with respect to biochemical composition as compared to lignocellulosic energy crops.
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