Microalgal carbohydrates: an overview of the factors influencing carbohydrates production, and of main bioconversion technologies for production of biofuels

Giorgos Markou, Irini Angelidaki, Dimitris Georgakakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Microalgal biomass seems to be a promising feedstock for biofuel generation. Microalgae have relative high photosynthetic efficiencies, high growth rates, and some species can thrive in brackish water or seawater and wastewater from the food- and agro-industrial sector. Today, the main interest in research is the cultivation of microalgae for lipids production to generate biodiesel. However, there are several other biological or thermochemical conversion technologies, in which microalgal biomass could be used as substrate. However, the high protein content or the low carbohydrate content of the majority of the microalgal species might be a constraint for their possible use in these technologies. Moreover, in the majority of biomass conversion technologies, carbohydrates are the main substrate for production of biofuels. Nevertheless, microalgae biomass composition could be manipulated by several cultivation techniques, such as nutrient starvation or other stressed environmental conditions, which cause the microalgae to accumulate carbohydrates. This paper attempts to give a general overview of techniques that can be used for increasing the microalgal biomass carbohydrate content. In addition, biomass conversion technologies, related to the conversion of carbohydrates into biofuels are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Volume96
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)631-645
ISSN0175-7598
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2012

Keywords

  • Biofuels
  • Biomass conversion technologies
  • Carbohydrates
  • Microalgae
  • Nutrient starvation

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