Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 93-98

First online:

Commercial applications of algae: opportunities and constraints

  • Richard J. RadmerAffiliated withMartek Biosciences Corporation
  • , Bruce C. ParkerAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

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Microalgae have three fundamental attributes that can be converted into technical and commercial advantages:

  1. (1)

    They are genetically a very diverse group of organisms with a wide range of physiological and biochemical characteristics; thus they naturally produce many different and unusual fats, sugars, bioactive compounds, etc.

  2. (2)

    They can cost-effectively incorporate the stable isotopes13C,15N and2H into their biomass, and thus into various compounds they produce.

  3. (3)

    They comprise a large, unexplored group of organisms, and thus provide a virtually untapped source of products.


The challenge in the application of microalgae to commercial ends is to focus only on those products with large market and/or profit potential, where the use of microalgae leads to clear competitive advantages. This requires a clear understanding of the practical use of the microalgal product, the market it addresses, and its advantages and cost relative to competitive products or processes. Several examples are presented.

Key words

microalgae algal products algal biotechnology