CHAPTER 14: Environmental Impact Assessment and Sustainability of Microalgae Production
Published:10 May 2021
W. Xu, A. Macdonald, S. Brynjolfsson, Ó. P. Jónsson, and W. Fu, in Microalgal Biotechnology: Recent Advances, Market Potential, and Sustainability, ed. A. Shekh, P. Schenk, and R. Sarada, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2021, pp. 380-392.
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To successfully pursue sustainable development and address the pressing issues of how to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs, it is key to promote efficient bio-manufacturing and make a change towards a biosustainable society. Microalgae are regarded as potential candidates and as feasible feedstock for bio-production because of their fast growth rates and capability to generate a variety of chemicals and fuels via photosynthesis. However, there are bottlenecks in the current technologies, including low solar-to-biomass conversion efficiency and high energy inputs as well as impacts on the environment, which hinder industrial applications of microalgae production. This chapter focuses on the environmental impacts from microalgae biotechnologies. It is clear that microalgae cultivation for a single purpose is not economically feasible. To achieve more sustainable production it is necessary to provide a comprehensive analysis of the limiting factors involved in microalgae biotechnologies. Different operation modes and technologies are analysed and evaluated. This chapter also discusses scenarios of microalgal biotechnologies to demonstrate the potentials of microalgae production in different countries. Finally, the challenges and perspectives towards the industrialization of microalgal biotechnologies are summarized and proposed.