Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 21, Issue 5, pp 493–507 | Cite as

Lipid productivity as a key characteristic for choosing algal species for biodiesel production

  • Melinda J. Griffiths
  • Susan T. L. HarrisonEmail author


Microalgae are a promising alternative source of lipid for biodiesel production. One of the most important decisions is the choice of species to use. High lipid productivity is a key desirable characteristic of a species for biodiesel production. This paper reviews information available in the literature on microalgal growth rates, lipid content and lipid productivities for 55 species of microalgae, including 17 Chlorophyta, 11 Bacillariophyta and five Cyanobacteria as well as other taxa. The data available in the literature are far from complete and rigorous comparison across experiments carried out under different conditions is not possible. However, the collated information provides a framework for decision-making and a starting point for further investigation of species selection. Shortcomings in the current dataset are highlighted. The importance of lipid productivity as a selection parameter over lipid content and growth rate individually is demonstrated.


Algal biodiesel Lipid productivity Species selection 



This work is based upon research supported by the South African Research Chair Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation. The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation (NRF) towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be attributed to the NRF.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Bioprocess Engineering ResearchUniversity of Cape TownCape TownSouth Africa

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