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Microalgae Production: A Sustainable Alternative for a Low-carbon Economy Transition



Leonardo Brantes Bacellar Mendes1, *, Carolina Vieira Viegas2, Rafael Richard Joao1, Ronaldo Bernardo da Silva3
1 Petrobras Research and Development Center (CENPES), Sustainability and Energy Sector, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2 School of Chemistry, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
3 Petrobras Research and Development Center (CENPES), Pilot Plant and Laboratory Sector, Brazil


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Creative Commons License
© 2021 Bacellar Mendes et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode. This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Petrobras Research and Development Center (CENPES), Sustainability and Energy Sector, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; E-mail: leobacellar@petrobras.com.br


Abstract

The production of microalgae on a commercial scale began in the 1970s. From this time until today it has consolidated itself as an alternative for human consumption and animal feed, mainly through aquaculture (carcinoculture, oyster farming, and fish farming).

Currently, most of the micro-algal biomass that has been produced in photoautotrophic systems for human consumption comes from four main genera (Chlorella, Arthrospira, Dunaliella, and Haematococcus). Recent advances allowed Nannochloropsis and Euglena cultivation in open ponds for feed and fuels.

Although the initiatives mentioned represent the success of the scale-up for microalgae production, there are challenges to be overcome for the use of the vast set of existing microalgae species.

The promising future of the industry involved in large scale production of microalgae is supported by its characteristic that is clearly sustainable from an ecological point of view and in the transition proposal to a low carbon economy that has been intensified in response to the effects caused by the progressive release of CO2 in the atmosphere.

Innovative applications from microalgae biotechnology are being developed every year. In this context, there have been several research and development initiatives over the past decade aimed at obtaining advanced fuels making full use of micro-algal biomass.

Keywords: Microalgae, Biomass, Sustainability, Scale-up, Biotechnology, Ecosystems.