17. Microalgal Biodiesel

  1. Christian Kennes and
  2. María C. Veiga
  1. Hugo Pereira1,
  2. Helena M. Amaro2,3,
  3. Nadpi G. Katkam1,4,
  4. Luísa Barreira1,
  5. A. Catarina Guedes2,
  6. João Varela1 and
  7. F. Xavier Malcata2,5

Published Online: 13 MAR 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118523360.ch17

Air Pollution Prevention and Control: Bioreactors and Bioenergy

Air Pollution Prevention and Control: Bioreactors and Bioenergy

How to Cite

Pereira, H., Amaro, H. M., Katkam, N. G., Barreira, L., Catarina Guedes, A., Varela, J. and Malcata, F. X. (2013) Microalgal Biodiesel, in Air Pollution Prevention and Control: Bioreactors and Bioenergy (eds C. Kennes and M. C. Veiga), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781118523360.ch17

Editor Information

  1. Department of Chemical Engineering, University of La Coruña, Spain

Author Information

  1. 1

    CCMAR–Centre of Marine Sciences, University of Algarve, Portugal

  2. 2

    CIIMAR/CIMAR–Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research, University of Porto, Portugal

  3. 3

    ICBAS–Institute of Biomedical Sciences Abel Salazar, University of Porto, Portugal

  4. 4

    ITQB–Institute of Chemical and Biological Technology, New University of Lisbon, Portugal

  5. 5

    Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Porto, Portugal

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 13 MAR 2013
  2. Published Print: 19 APR 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781119943310

Online ISBN: 9781118523360



  • Microalgae;
  • Lipid;
  • Transesterification;
  • Economic considerations;
  • Environmental considerations


In the latest decades, dramatic fluctuations of oil prices have occurred – owing to an increasing demand and a more and more limited supply; this situation has urged the quest for renewable energy sources. Microalgal-based biodiesel (MBB) appears as one of the most appealing and feasible substitute for fossil fuels among several cell-based sources of biodiesel.

Microalgae are photosynthetic, unicellular organisms that play a vital role in CO2 sequestration in our planet – but they do not competes with food production for arable land and water supply; microalgae may indeed be grown in marginal lands, and use wastewaters or seawater as growth medium. Furthermore, they can synthesize several high added-value products, viz. bioactive compounds, polyunsaturated fatty acids and pigments, which can be extracted prior to lipid extraction itself. After processing, residual algal biomass can still be used as feedstock for other fuels, or else as animal feed. All in all, microalgae offer certainly more advantages for biofuel production than land oil crops normally used for the same purpose.

Despite the numerous advantages of MBB, its economic feasibility has been hampered by excessively high (and, thus, still uncompetitive) operation costs. Attempts to effectively address this issue have encompassed either use of lipid-hyperproducing strains, or highly productive, low-cost photobioreactors – coupled with more efficient methods of harvesting and downstream processing. Additionally, full exploitation of all components in microalgal biomass – following a biorefinery strategy, should be considered to alleviate the economic constraint. This chapter addresses these possibilities in a brief, yet integrated manner.