Renewable energy, or more specifically microalgae biofuels, provide potential feedstock and mechanisms to produce alternative clean energy and power from traditional petroleum fuels. With simple structure, short cell cycle, the ability to grow in various water environments, and natural photosynthesis process, microalgae can provide viable biomass to produce biofuels. This paper will examine different production techniques to harvest proper quantity and quality of microalgal biomass, as well as evaluate their potential and challenges. Despite the excitement on the future of algae biofuels, much progress and research are required to advance this field and maximize the potential of this renewable energy. .
With the increasing energy demand, shortening fossil fuel sources in the US and globally, and the rising environmental concerns and greenhouse gas emissions, sustainability becomes the critical principle and challenge in the society. Vigorous research are conducted in order to discover and develop alternative and renewable methods and sources to generate energy and meet the power demand for daily and large-scale industrial usage. Biomass provide sustainable feedstocks to generate energy; and this paper specifically presents the potential of microalgae as the third generation biofuel feedstock. Microalgae essentially processes sun light and carbon dioxide to produce oxygen and sugars through photosynthesis, in order to generate energy for growth. They have simple structure, fast reproduction, high oil content and ability to grow in different water environments. This paper will evaluate the cultivation and production of microalgae, which is the first step to ensure proper quantity and quality of microalgae biomass growth. Different technologies of production are considered for their benefits and challenges. .
After production, microalgae is harvested, extracted and converted into various biofuels depending on the conversion processes, such as biogas, biodiesel, ethanol, etc.