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Future prospects of microalgal biofuel production systems


  • Evan Stephens

    (University of Queensland)

  • Ian Ross

    (University of Queensland)

  • Jan H. Mussgnug

    (University of Bielefeld)

  • Liam Wagner

    () (Department of Economics, University of Queensland)

  • Michael A. Borowitzka

    (Murdoch University)

  • Clemens Posten

    (University of Karlsruhe)

  • Olaf Kruse

    (University of Bielefeld)

  • Ben Hankamer

    (University of Bielefeld)


Climate change mitigation, economic growth and stability, and the ongoing depletion of oil reserves are all major drivers for the development of economically rational, renewable energy technology platforms. Microalgae have re-emerged as a popular feedstock for the production of biofuels and other more valuable products. Even though integrated microalgal production systems have some clear advantages and present a promising alternative to highly controversial first generation biofuel systems, the associated hype has often exceeded the boundaries of reality. With a growing number of recent analyses demonstrating that despite the hype, these systems are conceptually sound and potentially sustainable given the available inputs, we review the research areas that are key to attaining economic reality and the future development of the industry.

Suggested Citation

  • Evan Stephens & Ian Ross & Jan H. Mussgnug & Liam Wagner & Michael A. Borowitzka & Clemens Posten & Olaf Kruse & Ben Hankamer, 2010. "Future prospects of microalgal biofuel production systems," Energy Economics and Management Group Working Papers 7-2010, School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia.
  • Handle: RePEc:qld:uqeemg:7-2010

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    Cited by:

    1. Cerón-García, M.C. & Macías-Sánchez, M.D. & Sánchez-Mirón, A. & García-Camacho, F. & Molina-Grima, E., 2013. "A process for biodiesel production involving the heterotrophic fermentation of Chlorella protothecoides with glycerol as the carbon source," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 341-349.
    2. Kalpesh K. Sharma & Holger Schuhmann & Peer M. Schenk, 2012. "High Lipid Induction in Microalgae for Biodiesel Production," Energies, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(5), pages 1-22, May.
    3. Amaro, Helena M. & Macedo, Ângela C. & Malcata, F. Xavier, 2012. "Microalgae: An alternative as sustainable source of biofuels?," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 44(1), pages 158-166.
    4. repec:eee:appene:v:195:y:2017:i:c:p:1100-1111 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Singh, Bhaskar & Guldhe, Abhishek & Rawat, Ismail & Bux, Faizal, 2014. "Towards a sustainable approach for development of biodiesel from plant and microalgae," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 29(C), pages 216-245.
    6. repec:eee:renene:v:125:y:2018:i:c:p:985-994 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. repec:eee:rensus:v:74:y:2017:i:c:p:139-144 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Adenle, Ademola A. & Haslam, Gareth E. & Lee, Lisa, 2013. "Global assessment of research and development for algae biofuel production and its potential role for sustainable development in developing countries," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 182-195.
    9. repec:eee:rensus:v:81:y:2018:i:p1:p:76-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Yaoyang, Xu & Boeing, Wiebke J., 2013. "Mapping biofuel field: A bibliometric evaluation of research output," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 82-91.
    11. Michael Borowitzka & Navid Moheimani, 2013. "Sustainable biofuels from algae," Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, Springer, vol. 18(1), pages 13-25, January.
    12. Ringsmuth, Andrew K. & Landsberg, Michael J. & Hankamer, Ben, 2016. "Can photosynthesis enable a global transition from fossil fuels to solar fuels, to mitigate climate change and fuel-supply limitations?," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 62(C), pages 134-163.
    13. Rawat, I. & Ranjith Kumar, R. & Mutanda, T. & Bux, F., 2013. "Biodiesel from microalgae: A critical evaluation from laboratory to large scale production," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 444-467.
    14. repec:eee:rensus:v:78:y:2017:i:c:p:356-368 is not listed on IDEAS

    More about this item


    biofuels; algal biofuels; alternative energy;

    JEL classification:

    • Q40 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - General
    • Q42 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Energy - - - Alternative Energy Sources


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