Challenge and Potential of Biofuels from Algae

Science Insights, 25 August 2016
Volume 2016
Doi: 10.15354/si.16.re207

Challenge and Potential of Biofuels from Algae

Michael E. Gordon, PhD*,; Andrew Thomas Cook, PhD
Author Affiliations
*Division of Ocean Biotechniques, BioFront Co., Liverpool St, Sydney NSW 2000, Australia
Department of Environmental Biology, Macquarie University, Sydney NSW 2109, Australia
∆: Correspondence to: Dr. Michael E. Gordon, PhD,


Algae biofuels could give a viable alternative to fossil fuels; however, this tech-nology has to overcome several of hurdles before it can contend in fuel market and be deployed. The main challenges faced are production management, har-vesting, coproduct development, fuel extraction, strain isolation, nutrient sourc-ing and utilization, refining and residual biomass utilization. The solution to these hurdles is simple but needs time and effort. The affordable growth densities, high growth rates and high oil contents are solid reasons to invest notable capital to convert alga into biofuels. Furthermore, bioprospecting (in which natural diversi-ty is used to increase productivity), breeding and classical genetics (for trait iden-tification and improvement), bioengineering (in which synthetic biology is used to improve traits) and fuel molecules are some of the techniques under research that can make algal biofuel competitive with fossil fuel. No technology is without its challenges; same is the case with this new technology, as we lean more to it we discover more challenges and obstacles. Even given these uncertainties, it is believed that fuel production from algae will be widely deployable and priced competitive within the next 7 to 10 years, however we still need expand our un-derstanding of this wonderful organism so we can expand our ability to engineer them for the specific task of developing a brand new energy industry.

KeywordsAlgae; Fuel; Biotransformation; Energy; Sustainable development