Algal biotechnology products and processes — matching science and economics
- Cite this article as:
- Borowitzka, M.A. J Appl Phycol (1992) 4: 267. doi:10.1007/BF02161212
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Several microalgae, such as species ofChlorella, Spirulina andDunaliella, are grown commercially and algal products such as β-carotene and phycocyanin are available. The main focus of algal biotechnology continues to be on high value fine chemicals and on algae for use as aquaculture feeds. This paper provides the outline for a rational approach in evaluating which algae and which algal products are the most likely to be commercially viable. This approach involves some simple market analysis followed by economic modelling of the whole production process. It also permits an evaluation of which steps in the production process have the greatest effect on the final production cost of the alga or algal product, thus providing a guide as to what area the research and development effort should be directed to. An example of this approach is presented and compared with other models. The base model used here gives a production cost of microalgal biomass at about AS 14 to 15 kg−1, excluding the costs of further processing, packaging and marketing. The model also shows that some of the key factors in microalgal production are productivity, labor costs and harvesting costs. Given the existing technology, high value products such as carotenoids and algal biomass for aquaculture feeds have the greatest commercial potential in the short term.