Major Commercial Products from Micro- and Macroalgae

  • Melinda GriffithsEmail author
  • Susan T. L. Harrison
  • Monique Smit
  • Dheepak Maharajh
Part of the Green Energy and Technology book series (GREEN)


Macro- and microalgae are used in a variety of commercial products with many more in development. This chapter outlines the major products, species used, methods of production, extraction, and processing as well as market sizes and trends. Foods, nutraceuticals, and feeds are the major commercial products from algae. Well-known culinary products include Nori, Wakame, Kombu and Dulse, from whole macroalgal biomass. The microalgae Spirulina and Chlorella have been widely marketed as nutritional supplements for both humans and animals. Several microalgae with a high nutritional value and energy content are grown commercially as aquaculture feed. The major processed products from macroalgae are the hydrocolloids, including carrageenan, agars, and alginates, used as gelling agents in a variety of foods and healthcare products. Pigments extracted from algae include β-carotene, astaxanthin, and phycobiliproteins. These are generally used as food colorants, as additives in animal feed or as nutraceuticals for their antioxidant properties (Radmer in Bioscience 46:263–270, 1996; Pulz and Gross in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 65:635–648, 2004). Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are another high value product derived from microalgae. Other potential products include fertilizers, fuels, cosmetics and chemicals. Algae also have application in bioremediation and CO2 sequestration, as well as producing many interesting bioactive compounds. Algae have great potential to produce a wide range of valuable compounds, beyond their current exploitation. To date, commercialization of new products has been slow (Milledge in Reviews in Environmental Science and Biotechnology 10:31–41, 2011; Wijffels in Trends in Biotechnology 26:26–31, 2007; Radmer in Bioscience 46:263–270, 1996; Pulz and Gross in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 65:635–648, 2004; Spolaore et al. in Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering 101(2):87–96, 2006), however, microalgal biotechnology is a relatively new industry, and therefore, it is unsurprising that significant challenges remain to be solved. The advantages associated with algal production are likely to ensure that efforts continue.


Microalgae Macroalgae Pigments High value products Bioactive compounds 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Melinda Griffiths
    • 1
    Email author
  • Susan T. L. Harrison
    • 1
  • Monique Smit
    • 1
    • 2
  • Dheepak Maharajh
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering, Centre for Bioprocess Engineering Research (CeBER)University of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.CSIR BiosciencesPretoriaSouth Africa

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