The promise of algae to address the renewable energy and green-product production demands of the globe has yet to be realized. Over the past ten years, however, there has been a substantial investment and interest in realizing the potential of algae to meet these needs. Tremendous progress has been achieved. Ten years ago, the price of gasoline produced from algal biomass was 20-fold greater than it is today. Technoeconomic models indicate that algal biocrude produced in an optimized cultivation, harvesting, and biomass conversion facility can achieve economic parity with petroleum while reducing carbon-energy indices substantially relative to petroleum-based fuels. There is also an emerging recognition that algal carbon capture and sequestration as lipids may offer a viable alternative to direct atmospheric CO2 capture and sequestration. We review recent advances in basic and applied algal biomass production from the perspectives of algal biology, cultivation, harvesting, energy conversion, and sustainability. The prognosis is encouraging but will require substantial integration and field testing of a variety of technology platforms to down select the most economical and sustainable systems to address the needs of the circular economy and atmospheric carbon mitigation.
Part of the book: Biotechnological Applications of Biomass