초록 close

Microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms that are highly productive in the presence of basic renewable natural sources (light, CO2, water and nutrients). They can synthesize lipids, carbohydrates and proteins in a small number of days. Subsequently, these carbon-captured products can be processed into both biofuels and valuable co-products. Additionally, microalgae would be an ideal feedstock for replacing land-based food crops with cellular products as high energy density transportation fuels. These microscopic organisms could contribute a significant amount of renewable energy on a global scale. In Korea, microalgae biofuel research was common in the early 1990s. The research activities were unfortunately stopped due to limited governmental funds and low petroleum prices. Interest in algal biofuels in Korea has been growing recently due to an increased concern over oil prices, energy security, greenhouse gas emissions, and the potential for other biofuel feedstock to compete for limited agricultural resources. The high productivity of microalgae suggests that much of the Korean transportation fuel requirements can be met by biofuels at a production cost competitive with the increasing cost of petroleum seen in early 2008. At this time, the development of microlalgal biomass production technology remains in its infancy. This study reviewed microalgae culture systems and biomass production, harvesting, oil extraction, conversion, and technoeconomical bottlenecks. Many technical and economic barriers to using microalgal biofuels need to be overcome before mass production of microalgal-derived fuel substitutes is possible. However, serious efforts to overcome these barriers could become a large-scale commercial reality. Overall, this study provides a brief overview of the past few decades of global microalgal research.