Microalgae Biotechnology

Clemens Posten & Steven Feng Chen
Published in: Springer
Release Year: 2016
ISBN: 978-3-319-23808-1
Pages: 205
Edition: 1st
File Size: 4 MB
File Type: pdf
Language: English

Description of Microalgae Biotechnology

One of the biggest global challenges of the twentieth century is to sustainably supply a growing world population with food, raw materials, and energy in times of climate change. In doing so, biomass plays an important role, as the plants, with the help of sunlight and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, can produce all these components sustainably and without consuming fossil energy sources. This photosynthesis-based capacity of plants, hence, is the cornerstone of the current bioeconomy concept. However, there are clear limits: The available and even decreasing agricultural area and the yield per unit area that can hardly be increased any further.

Microalgae are a promising—some people say the only—way out of this limitation. Even residual biomass—the so called biomass of the second generation—is available only in limited amounts compared to the huge needs in energy supply. So microalgae have been classified as the biomass of the third generation. The potential for a novel type of biomass production for bioeconomy is enormous. 
The two major advantages on this strategical level can be identified:
• Per unit area, microalgae can form up to five times more biomass than classical energy plants. Values of 100 t biomass per hectare and year are considered to be realistic.
• No valuable agricultural area is required. It is possible to use practically any areas not claimed for other purposes. This includes dry areas, industrial wasteland, brackish water zones or open seas. 
But where are the large-scale production facilities for economically efficient supply of basic foodstuffs, bulk chemicals or chemical energy carriers? Even if the potential of microalgae for biomass supply is quite obvious, there is still a great need for research to develop relevant applications and to find out, how micro-algal biomass can be produced in reliable and profitable manner in large scale. This editorial will give a look over current trends, identify existing obstacles, and specify biological and technical research needs necessary for an economically efficient microalgae-based bioeconomy.
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