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Development of algae biorefinery concepts for biofuels and bioproducts; a perspective on process-compatible products and their impact on cost-reduction

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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.

Graphical abstract: Development of algae biorefinery concepts for biofuels and bioproducts; a perspective on process-compatible products and their impact on cost-reduction

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Publication details

The article was received on 11 May 2017, accepted on 10 Jul 2017 and first published on 10 Jul 2017


Article type: Review Article
DOI: 10.1039/C7EE01306J
Citation: Energy Environ. Sci., 2017, Advance Article
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    Development of algae biorefinery concepts for biofuels and bioproducts; a perspective on process-compatible products and their impact on cost-reduction

    L. M. L. Laurens, J. Markham, D. W. Templeton, E. D. Christensen, S. Van Wychen, E. W. Vadelius, M. Chen-Glasser, T. Dong, R. Davis and P. T. Pienkos, Energy Environ. Sci., 2017, Advance Article , DOI: 10.1039/C7EE01306J

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