Table of Contents
ISRN Renewable Energy
Volume 2012, Article ID 631574, 14 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.5402/2012/631574
Review Article

Algal Biofuels: A Credible Prospective?

Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK

Received 31 October 2012; Accepted 5 December 2012

Academic Editors: M. S. Abdel-Mottaleb and H. Boyer

Copyright © 2012 Bhavish Patel et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Global energy use has reached unprecedented levels and increasing human population, technological integration, and improving lifestyle will further fuel this demand. Fossil fuel based energy is our primary source of energy and it will remain to be in the near future. The effects from the use of this finite resource on the fate of our planet are only now being understood and recognised in the form of climate change. Renewable energy systems may offer a credible alternative to help maintain our lifestyle sustainably and there are a range of options that can be pursued. Biofuels, especially algae based, have gained significant publicity recently. The concept of making biofuels, biochemicals, and by-products works well theoretically and at small scale, but when considering scaleup, many solutions can be dismissed on either economical or ecological grounds. Even if an (cost-) effective method for algae cultivation is developed, other input parameters, namely, fixed nitrogen and fresh water, remain to be addressed. Furthermore, current processing routes for harvesting, drying, and extraction for conversion to subsequent products are economically unattractive. The strategies employed for various algae-based fuels are identified and it is suggested that ultimately only an integrated algal biorefinery concept may be the way forward.