In 2018, the microalgae market was valued at US $1.7 billion, with an estimated compound annual growth by 5% from 2019 to 2027.
The reduction of environmental impacts of fuels and food products is a main way for climate change mitigation and microalgae appear to have this potential of producing a large amount of valuable products sustainably, since they do not require arable land and can be produced using seawater, wastewater, or brackish water. But, microalgae are primarily featured for carbon dioxide capture and sequestration into biomass. This new green-energy market may provide opportunities for ambitious industry of production of carbon-neutral energy.
At present, vaccines and other pharmaceutical proteins are among the most high-value products that microalgae are used to produce. There are other high-value markets for microalgae as cosmetics and food supplements. These have been developed as potentially more sustainable alternatives to synthetic or animal-derived products.
Microalgae also provide feedstocks for biodiesel and ethanol, contributing to renewable and sustainable energy resource developments that may renounce fossil and food-derived fuels.
The potential of microalgae has raised with the development of genetic and synthetic biology approaches that can accelerate and produce novel specialty products or conventional products with improved lipid content, growth rate, and production efficiency.
In 2018 the microalgae market was valued at US $1.7 billion, with an estimated compound annual growth by 5% from 2019 to 2027.
In response to the increasing demand for algae products, many efforts have been devoted to improve the harvesting methods or to develop novel approaches for higher efficiency with a lower price tag in recent years. This is because harvesting incurs a substantial cost on microalgae producers, accounting for 3 to 15% of the total cost.
Microalgae are cultivated in various types of indoor and outdoor bioreactors and open ponds, which can produce a large amount of algal suspension that requires efficient and economical methods to harvest the biomass.
Despite the promise of microalgae feedstocks, harvesting bioproducts from microalgae poses challenges because of the small size and recalcitrance of their cells. Technologies have been developed to deal with the harvesting challenge, ranging from conventional centrifugation, filtration, and flocculation to newer solvent and thermal reactors and finally co-culture-based methods.