What is it about?

The first generation biofuels failed to achieve commercial viability due to the use of arable land and crop-based feedstock. It has been reported that the use of arable land and clearing of forest for biofuel production actually enhances greenhouse gas emission compared to fossil fuel combustion. Moreover, such practices negatively impact the food production chain. Efforts are underway to reduce the cost of biofuel production from third-generation biofuel systems. Such modifications fall under the fourth generation biofuel system. The measures involve screening best microalgal strain, strain improvement of useful microalgae, optimal nutrient sourcing and utilization, harvesting, biofuel extraction, product refining, and reuse of residual biomass.

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Why is it important?

Currently, approximately 90% of the energy is driven by burning fossil fuels, and the rest of the 10% from green energy sources. Due to the increasing load of the growing population and anticipating the huge future land demands, the biofuels could not be efficiently generated on land.


Microalgae and seaweeds are desirable feedstocks for biofuel generation as their growth is season independent, possess a higher growth rate, and require less water and land compared to food crops. At the commercial level, continuous biomass supply for biofuel generation is difficult to maintain as the system has a complex supply chain which is influenced by season, the interest of farmers, landholders, project developers, and transport companies. The long-term contracts for securing a significant amount of feedstocks are rare as there is a lack of integration in supply chains. Moreover, each biofuel type requires specific conversion technologies to power engines and the specifications change with time. Also, the low liquidity of the international biofuel market has not attracted large-scale investments.

Dr Anurag Yadav
Sardarkrushinagar Dantiwada Agricultural University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Microalgal Biofuels: Current Status and Opportunities, March 2021, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1201/9781003019510-5.
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