Review of the biological and engineering aspects of algae to fuels approach

Paul Chen, Min Min, Yifeng Chen, Liang Wang, Yecong Li, Qin Chen, Chenguang Wang, Yiqin Wan, Xiaoquan Wang, Yanling Cheng, Shaobo Deng, Kevin Hennessy, Xiangyang Lin, Yuhuan Liu, Yingkuan Wang, Blanca Martinez, Roger Ruan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

213 Scopus citations


Current biofuel production relies on limited arable lands on the earth, and is impossible to meet the biofuel demands. Oil producing algae are alternative biofuel feedstock with potential to meet the world's ambitious goal to replace fossil fuels. This review provides an overview of the biological and engineering aspects in the production and processing technologies and recent advances in research and development in the algae to fuels approach. The article covers biology, selection and genetic modification of algae species and strains, production systems design, culture media and light management, harvest and dewatering, downstream processing, and environment and economic assessment. Despite the many advances made over several decades, commercialization of algal fuels remains challenging chiefly because of the techno-economic constraints. Technological breakthroughs in all major aspects must take place before commercial production of algal fuels becomes economically viable.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Journal of Agricultural and Biological Engineering
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009


  • Algae
  • Dewatering
  • Enclosed photobioreactor
  • Extraction
  • Fermentation
  • Gasification
  • Harvest
  • Hydrothermal liquefaction
  • Light
  • Microalgae
  • Open pond
  • Pyrolysis


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