Current Bottlenecks and Challenges of the Microalgal Biorefinery

Imma Gifuni*, Antonino Pollio, Carl Safi, Antonio Marzocchella, Giuseppe Olivieri

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Microalgae are increasingly considered as sources of renewable feedstocks for industrial production, and microalgae production now focuses on the multiproduct microalgal biorefinery. However, such a biorefinery presents several bottlenecks that are mainly associated with downstream processes. This reduced downstream efficiency results from unsolved problems related to the culture strategy for the accumulation of different products – the protein versus lipid dilemma – and the dilute nature of the microalgal culture. We identify new trends and propose promising solutions for realizing microalgal biorefineries at industrial scale. New perspectives and challenges are identified in protein properties and in the integration and cooptimization of culture and downstream processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-252
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • biorefinery
  • cascade extraction
  • co-accumulation
  • microalgae
  • thin photobioreactors


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