Comparison of various microalgae liquid biofuel production pathways based on energetic, economic and environmental criteria

Bioresour Technol. 2013 May;136:205-12. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2013.02.091. Epub 2013 Mar 4.


In view of the increasing demand for bioenergy, in this study, the techno-economic viabilities for three emerging pathways to microalgal biofuel production have been evaluated. The three processes evaluated are the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL), oil secretion and alkane secretion. These three routes differ in their lipid extraction procedure and the end-products produced. This analysis showed that these three processes showed various advantages: possibility to convert the defatted microalgae into bio-crude via HTL thus increasing the total biodiesel yield; better energetic and environmental performance for oil secretion and an even increased net energy ratio (NER) for alkane secretion. However, great technological breakthroughs are needed before planning any scale-up strategy such as continuous wet biomass processing and heat exchange optimization for the HTL pathway and effective and sustainable excretion for both secretion pathways.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Alkanes / metabolism
  • Anaerobiosis
  • Biofuels / economics*
  • Biofuels / microbiology*
  • Biotechnology / economics*
  • Biotechnology / methods*
  • Microalgae / metabolism*
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Oils / metabolism
  • Thermodynamics


  • Alkanes
  • Biofuels
  • Oils