Chemicals and Fuels from Microalgae
Microalgae are emerging as excellent platforms for producing biofuels, chemicals, and other bioactive molecules. They are collection of distant photosynthetic organisms along the long evolutionary track from prokaryotes to multicellular eukaryotes. Quite different from familiar organisms such as bacteria, plants, and animals, they present challenges for research and industrial applications. On the other hand, their diverse characters offer unique opportunities for new products with higher efficiency. They are primary producers of glycerolipids, carotenoids, and other valuable chemicals, of which successful production necessitate understanding of their physiology and genetics. Fortunately, many of these have been found in microalgae, and biological research is following up to improve production of these materials in microalgae. Many microalgae have excellent carbon storage mechanisms for carbohydrates and/or lipids. Lipids in particular represent a wide variety of glycerolipids and carotenoids that can be converted to biofuels and nutraceutical ingredients. Their residues can also be used as feeds or processed to provide carbons for secondary production of value-added products such as fucose from other organisms. It should also be noted that microalgae can be an excellent host for production of recombinant proteins with pharmaceutical or therapeutic values. This review summarizes chemicals, biofuels, and other value-added products that can be produced from microalgae and present improvements and prospects on their successful production in large scale.
This work was supported by the Advanced Biomass R&D Center (ABC) of Global Frontier Project funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (ABC-2010-0029728 and 2011-0031350).
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