Environment-enhancing algal biofuel production using wastewaters

Wenguang Zhou, Paul Chen, Min Min, Xiaochen Ma, Jinghan Wang, Richard Griffith, Fida Hussain, Pu Peng, Qinglong Xie, Yun Li, Jian Shi, Jianzong Meng, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


The potential of algae-based biofuels to replace petroleum fuels and mitigate greenhouse gas production through microalgal photosynthesis has long been recognized. However, currently there are no commercial algae-to-fuels technologies that can overcome techno-economic barriers and address serious sustainability concerns. Coupling microalgae cultivation with wastewater treatment is considered as one of the most promising routes to produce bio-energy and bio-based byproducts in an economically viable and environmentally friendly way. This paper critically reviews the current status of this specific niche research area covering utilization of different types of wastewaters as media for algae cultivation, microalgae selection, bioreactor type, cultivation mode, environmental factors and operational parameters as well as harvesting techniques and production of a broad spectrum of biofuels and byproducts through various conversion pathways. Future development of practical solutions to key problems and integration of advanced algae cultivation and wastewater treatment, and system analysis approach to the evaluation of economic feasibility and sustainability of wastewater-based algal biofuel production are also discussed in depth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-269
Number of pages14
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The study was partially supported by grants from the University of Minnesota Center for Biorefining , the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR) , and the China 863 Projects ( 2012AA021704 ), NSF of China (Grant 21177067 ), the Key Program of Natural Science of the Jiangsu Province of China (Grant BK2010034 ) and China International Cooperation Projects ( 2010DFB63750 ).

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Biofuel
  • Life cycle analysis
  • Microalgae
  • Sustainable development
  • Techno-economic assessment
  • Wastewater resources


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