Reviews in Environmental Science and Bio/Technology

, Volume 13, Issue 3, pp 301–320 | Cite as

Methods of energy extraction from microalgal biomass: a review



The potential of algal biomass as a source of liquid and gaseous biofuels is a highly topical theme, The process operations for algal biofuel production can be grouped into three areas: growth, harvesting and energy extraction, with a wide range of combinations of unit operations that can form a microalgal biofuel production system, but as yet there is no successful economically viable commercial system producing biofuel. This suggests that there are major technical and engineering difficulties to be resolved before economic algal biofuel production can be achieved. This article briefly reviews the methods by which useful energy may be extracted from microalgae biomass: (a) direct combustion, (b) pyrolysis, (c) gasification, (d) liquefaction, (e) hydrogen production by biochemical processes in certain algae, (f) fuel cells, (g) fermentation to bioethanol, (h) trans-esterification to biodiesel, (i) anaerobic digestion.


Microalgae Bioenergy Anaerobic digestion Pyrolysis Gasification Liquefaction Biodiesel 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Science & EngineeringUniversity of GreenwichChatham MaritimeUK
  2. 2.Engineering and the EnvironmentUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK

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