Microalgae were the basis of life into the planet, but only recently these microorganisms are exploited at a commercial scale. Thus, the production of pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, feed, and foods from microalgae is today a commercial reality increasing year by year. Additionally, microalgae have been proposed to be used to enhance the sustainability of existing industrial activities, as wastewater treatment and biofuel production. In this way, the utilization of microalgae at a large scale is considered a green revolution in the sustainability of mankind. This chapter is focused on reviewing the real contribution of microalgae to human activities. The last improvements of technologies and its uses, in addition to still existing bottlenecks for the massive exploitation of these microorganisms, are reviewed.
Part of the book: Case Study of Innovative Projects
Microalgae biotechnology has grown very rapidly in the last few decades due to the multiple applications that these microorganisms have from pharmaceuticals and cosmetics to foods/feeds and biofuels. One of the main challenges in expanding this industry is to enlarge the single use of the biomass produced in addition to reducing the high biomass production cost of the current technologies. To overcome this bottleneck, the development of microalgae-based biorefineries has been proposed. The issue is to obtain as many bioproducts as possible from the cultivated biomass, including biofuels. Consequently, biodiesel production (from the lipid fraction), bioethanol (from carbohydrate fraction), and biogas or bio-oil (from the whole biomass) have been posited. In this book chapter, we review the current state of the art in the production of sustainable biofuels from microalgae and analyze the potential of microalgae to contribute to the biofuel sector.
Part of the book: Sustainable Mobility