Climate change is one of the main threats of the modern society. This phenomenon is associated with the increase of the greenhouse gases (GHGs, mainly carbon dioxide – CO2) emissions due to anthropogenic activities. Main causes are the burning of fossil fuels and land use change (deforestation). Climate change impacts are associated with risks to basic needs (health, food security and clean water) as well as risks to development (jobs, economic growth and the cost of living). Taking into account this phenomenon, several countries participated in the last United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (21st Conference of the Parties – COP21) and agreed to reduce their GHG emissions to limit the rise in global temperature to less than 2°C. Main commitments and actions are focused in energy efficiency, renewable energy deployment and forest protection (increasing the CO2 natural sinks). In this context, biofuels (from non-edible feedstocks) have the potential to replace fossil based fuels in the transport sector, being a carbon-neutral fuel. In particular, algae–based biofuel can play a dual role in this scenario: as photosynthetic organisms, algae can capture CO2 from industrial emissions or from atmosphere and the resulting biomass can be used to produce a wide range of materials including biofuels. Therefore, this paper reviews the research advances of algae cultures with focus on the applications (CO2 capture and bioenergy production) related to the targets of COP21 agreement. Main recent advances in algal research studies and projects are also presented.
Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews – Elsevier
Published: Nov 1, 2017
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