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Special Issue "Biomass Energy Conversion"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Energy Sustainability".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 October 2016)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Michael Wachendorf

Grassland Science and Renewable Plant Resources, Universität Kassel, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Interests: crop production; grassland ecosystems; remote sensing; bioenergy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Bioenergy is still a cornerstone of the renewable energy system and immense efforts in research are undertaken to explore new biomass resources and increase the versatility and efficiency of conversion techniques. At the same time, there are contrasting findings about the sustainability and environmental effectiveness of existing bioenergy strategies and techniques. Recently societies’ awareness about conflicts among important goals in bioenergy production (e.g., productivity, biodiversity, CO2 mitigation) was increasing.

This Special Issue invites papers dealing with the various aspects of sustainability in bioenergy production, covering all integral technical chains from biomass production to residue management. Papers are preferably sought that critically examine the advantages and disadvantages of bioenergy concepts and techniques, by presenting pilot applications, desk-top reviews of case studies, proposal of analytical methods, and tools.

Topics of interests include, but are not restricted to:

  • new biomass resources
  • new technical processes for energetic conversion of biomass
  • residue management after energetic conversion
  • assessment of efficiency of energetic conversion
  • socio-economic evaluation of bioenergy value chains
  • life-cycle assessment of concepts
  • legal framework development for improved sustainability
  • analysis of trade-offs in bioenergy production.

Prof. Michael Wachendorf
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • biomass
  • energy crops
  • green waste
  • agricultural residues
  • bioenergy
  • bioeconomy
  • life-cycle assessment
  • ecosystem services
  • conversion efficiency
  • nutrient budgeting
  • climate change mitigation

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Agronomic Factors Affecting the Potential of Sorghum as a Feedstock for Bioethanol Production in the Kanto Region, Japan
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 937; doi:10.3390/su9060937
Received: 9 May 2017 / Revised: 9 May 2017 / Accepted: 27 May 2017 / Published: 2 June 2017
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Abstract
In the Kanto region in Japan, the possibilities of running a bio-ethanol plant from rice straw has been assessed and sorghum production has been considered as a necessary part of the system. Two field experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 at the
[...] Read more.
In the Kanto region in Japan, the possibilities of running a bio-ethanol plant from rice straw has been assessed and sorghum production has been considered as a necessary part of the system. Two field experiments were conducted in 2012 and 2013 at the NARO—Agricultural Research Center in Tsukuba, Ibaraki to estimate yielding ability of sorghum in the Kanto region. Two cultivars of sweet sorghum and one of grain sorghum were sown using a pneumatic seeder. Above-ground dry matter (DM) yield ranged from 1.03 to 1.82 kg m−2 for the sorgo type cultivars and from 0.70 to 1.18 kg m−2 for the grain type cultivar. The observed yields were lower than the simulated potential yields, i.e., 1.61 to 2.66 kg m−2, indicating that biomass production was restricted in this study. Stem brix values for the sweet sorghum cultivars were generally low (3.3–16.2%) compared with the values reported in the literature. It appears that there is still room to improve the field management of sorghum to minimize the gap between the potential and actual production observed in these experiments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Energy Generation from Horse Husbandry Residues by Anaerobic Digestion, Combustion, and an Integrated Approach
Sustainability 2017, 9(3), 358; doi:10.3390/su9030358
Received: 21 October 2016 / Accepted: 17 February 2017 / Published: 28 February 2017
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Abstract
Horse-related activities often occur close to urban areas, where acreage for horse manure disposal is scarce, and subsequently alternative recovery options are necessary. Anaerobic digestion, direct combustion, and the integrated generation of solid fuel and biogas from biomass (IFBB) process are potential techniques
[...] Read more.
Horse-related activities often occur close to urban areas, where acreage for horse manure disposal is scarce, and subsequently alternative recovery options are necessary. Anaerobic digestion, direct combustion, and the integrated generation of solid fuel and biogas from biomass (IFBB) process are potential techniques focusing on energy provision. In this study, samples of horse faeces were analysed for chemical composition as pure feedstock and in mixture with straw or wood shavings, as well as for energy yield by biogas production or from combustion of solid fuel. It was observed that chemical properties of faeces, in a mixture with wood shavings, were promising for direct combustion, but achieved low methane yields. The methane yield of pure faeces and the straw mixture was 222.33 ± 13.60 and 233.01 ± 31.32 lN·kg-1 volatile solids (VS)added, respectively. The IFBB process divided the biomass into a press cake with reduced mineral concentration and a press fluid. Methane yields of press fluids were low (108.2 lN·kg-1 VSadded, on average). The chemical composition of the press cake allowed for combustion and led to a higher gross energy potential than anaerobic digestion (two-fold higher for pure manure and the mixture with straw, and five-fold higher for the mixture with shavings). Consequently, the gross energy potential of IFBB is higher compared to anaerobic digestion, however it should be noted that local conditions might favour the implementation of anaerobic digestion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Land Suitability Assessment for Camelina (Camelina sativa L.) Development in Chile
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 154; doi:10.3390/su9010154
Received: 30 October 2016 / Revised: 16 January 2017 / Accepted: 16 January 2017 / Published: 21 January 2017
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Abstract
Camelina (Camelina sativa L.) is an oilseed with potential for use as a raw material in second-generation biofuels. Camelina has a seed yield of up to 2380 kg·ha−1 and contains around 45% fatty acids. Selection of a suitable site is critical
[...] Read more.
Camelina (Camelina sativa L.) is an oilseed with potential for use as a raw material in second-generation biofuels. Camelina has a seed yield of up to 2380 kg·ha−1 and contains around 45% fatty acids. Selection of a suitable site is critical for production optimization. The objective of this study was to determine Chilean agro-climatic suitability for establishing camelina as a productive alternative. Climate and soil requirements and geographical restraints were evaluated for the species, considering the climatological characteristics of its regions of origin, as well as regions where camelina is successfully grown in the rest of the world. The variables considered included factors (maximum temperatures of the warmest month, water deficits, and degree days) and limitations (altitude, geomorphology, and current land use), which permitted the evaluation of the national territory for a certain level of suitability. It was determined that 1.3% of the national territory (960,664 ha) has some degree of suitability for camelina adoption. Between the Biobío and Los Lagos regions, 49.0% of the land (471,203 ha) is in the category of no thermic restrictions, with mild water restrictions, and mild soil restrictions or without information, which can be used for camelina production. The Los Ríos region has 21.4% surface area (321,176 ha) with some level of suitability for camelina, the most suitable region to establish this crop in Chile. This research has provided valuable information applicable to new species and geographic areas which facilitate the adaptation of agricultural and forestry production to global changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Adaptation of C4 Bioenergy Crop Species to Various Environments within the Southern Great Plains of USA
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 89; doi:10.3390/su9010089
Received: 19 September 2016 / Revised: 14 December 2016 / Accepted: 5 January 2017 / Published: 11 January 2017
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2002 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
As highly productive perennial grasses are evaluated as bioenergy feedstocks, a major consideration is biomass yield stability. Two experiments were conducted to examine some aspects of yield stability for two biofuel species: switchgrass (Panicum vigratum L.) and Miscanthus x giganteus (Mxg
[...] Read more.
As highly productive perennial grasses are evaluated as bioenergy feedstocks, a major consideration is biomass yield stability. Two experiments were conducted to examine some aspects of yield stability for two biofuel species: switchgrass (Panicum vigratum L.) and Miscanthus x giganteus (Mxg). Biomass yields of these species were evaluated under various environmental conditions across the Southern Great Plains (SGP), including some sites with low soil fertility. In the first experiment, measured yields of four switchgrass ecotypes and Mxg varied among locations. Overall, plants showed optimal growth performance in study sites close to their geographical origins. Lowland switchgrass ecotypes and Mxg yields simulated by the ALMANAC model showed reasonable agreement with the measured yields across all study locations, while the simulated yields of upland switchgrass ecotypes were overestimated in northern locations. In the second experiment, examination of different N fertilizer rates revealed switchgrass yield increases over the range of 0, 80, or 160 kg N ha−1 year−1, while Mxg only showed yield increases between the low and medium N rates. This provides useful insights to crop management of two biofuel species and to enhance the predictive accuracy of process-based models, which are critical for developing bioenergy market systems in the SGP. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Environmental Performance of Miscanthus, Switchgrass and Maize: Can C4 Perennials Increase the Sustainability of Biogas Production?
Sustainability 2017, 9(1), 5; doi:10.3390/su9010005
Received: 31 October 2016 / Revised: 13 December 2016 / Accepted: 15 December 2016 / Published: 22 December 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2981 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Biogas is considered a promising option for complementing the fluctuating energy supply from other renewable sources. Maize is currently the dominant biogas crop, but its environmental performance is questionable. Through its replacement with high-yielding and nutrient-efficient perennial C4 grasses, the environmental impact of
[...] Read more.
Biogas is considered a promising option for complementing the fluctuating energy supply from other renewable sources. Maize is currently the dominant biogas crop, but its environmental performance is questionable. Through its replacement with high-yielding and nutrient-efficient perennial C4 grasses, the environmental impact of biogas could be considerably improved. The objective of this paper is to assess and compare the environmental performance of the biogas production and utilization of perennial miscanthus and switchgrass and annual maize. An LCA was performed using data from field trials, assessing the impact in the five categories: climate change (CC), fossil fuel depletion (FFD), terrestrial acidification (TA), freshwater eutrophication (FE) and marine eutrophication (ME). A system expansion approach was adopted to include a fossil reference. All three crops showed significantly lower CC and FFD potentials than the fossil reference, but higher TA and FE potentials, with nitrogen fertilizer production and fertilizer-induced emissions identified as hot spots. Miscanthus performed best and changing the input substrate from maize to miscanthus led to average reductions of −66% CC; −74% FFD; −63% FE; −60% ME and −21% TA. These results show that perennial C4 grasses and miscanthus in particular have the potential to improve the sustainability of the biogas sector. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle High-Quality Solid Fuel Production from Leaf Litter of Urban Street Trees
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1249; doi:10.3390/su8121249
Received: 19 September 2016 / Revised: 21 November 2016 / Accepted: 24 November 2016 / Published: 30 November 2016
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Abstract
Leaf litter is a growing concern for cities. Due to adherent dirt such biomass is rarely utilized nowadays but may constitute a renewable energy source for communities or private households. Leaf litter from main roads, residential areas and city centres collected by the
[...] Read more.
Leaf litter is a growing concern for cities. Due to adherent dirt such biomass is rarely utilized nowadays but may constitute a renewable energy source for communities or private households. Leaf litter from main roads, residential areas and city centres collected by the vacuum technique or the sweeper technique was sampled and analysed for ash content and chemical composition. Ash content of leaf litter collected by the sweeping technique was higher (21.6%–40.1% dry matter, DM) than in material collected by the vacuum technique (12.0%–21.7% DM). Leaf litter from residential areas had the highest contamination (21.7%–40.1% DM), followed by main roads (20.8%–26.2% DM) and city centres (12.0%–21.6% DM). Ash content was reduced by up to 60% with a washing treatment and reached values comparable to those achieved by multiple manual rinsing, which was conducted as a reference treatment. The chemical composition of washed leaf litter could be further improved by mechanical dehydration treatment due to a reduction in harmful elements for combustion such as K, Cl, Mg and S. Heating value of leaf litter increased and the risk of corrosion and ash melting during combustion were reduced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Energetic Valorization of Wet Olive Mill Wastes through a Suitable Integrated Treatment: H2O2 with Lime and Anaerobic Digestion
Sustainability 2016, 8(11), 1150; doi:10.3390/su8111150
Received: 17 August 2016 / Revised: 27 October 2016 / Accepted: 5 November 2016 / Published: 9 November 2016
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Abstract
In the Mediterranean region, the disposal of residues of olive oil industries represents an important environmental issue. In recent years, many techniques were proposed to improve the characteristics of these wastes with the aim to use them for methane generation in anaerobic digestion
[...] Read more.
In the Mediterranean region, the disposal of residues of olive oil industries represents an important environmental issue. In recent years, many techniques were proposed to improve the characteristics of these wastes with the aim to use them for methane generation in anaerobic digestion processes. Nevertheless, these techniques, in many cases, result costly as well as difficult to perform. In the present work, a simple and useful process that exploits H2O2 in conjunction with lime is developed to enhance the anaerobic biodegradability of wet olive mill wastes (WMOW). Several tests were performed to investigate the influence of lime amount and H2O2 addition modality. The treatment efficiency was positively affected by the increase of lime dosage and by the sequential addition of hydrogen peroxide. The developed process allows reaching phenols abatements up to 80% and volatile fatty acids productions up to 90% by using H2O2 and Ca(OH)2 amounts of 0.05 gH2O2/gCOD and 35 g/L, respectively. The results of many batch anaerobic digestion tests, carried out by means of laboratory equipment, proved that the biogas production from fresh wet olive mill wastes is hardly achievable. On the contrary, organic matter abatements, around to 78%, and great methane yields, up to 0.34–0.35 LCH4/gCODremoved, were obtained on pretreated wastes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle The Effect of the Invasive Plant Species Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. on Energy Recovery Parameters of Semi-Natural Grassland Biomass
Sustainability 2016, 8(10), 998; doi:10.3390/su8100998
Received: 12 July 2016 / Revised: 21 September 2016 / Accepted: 28 September 2016 / Published: 7 October 2016
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Abstract
Biodiversity of semi-natural grasslands is increasingly endangered by successful invasive plant species such as the legume Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. In order to contain the propagation of this plant species, early and regular harvesting needs to be applied. Therefore, a form of utilization for
[...] Read more.
Biodiversity of semi-natural grasslands is increasingly endangered by successful invasive plant species such as the legume Lupinus polyphyllus Lindl. In order to contain the propagation of this plant species, early and regular harvesting needs to be applied. Therefore, a form of utilization for the harvested biomass has to be developed. One opportunity could be the use of the biomass as a feedstock for biogas and solid fuel production. This study investigates the effect of L. polyphyllus on the nutrient and mineral composition in a mixture series with semi-natural grassland biomass and examines the changes in nutrient and mineral content through hydrothermal conditioning and mechanical dewatering of silage. Untreated lupine-invaded biomass has higher N and Mg concentrations, but lower Cl, K and S concentrations compared to the semi-natural grassland biomass. The mineral concentrations in the biomass exceeded recommendations for combustion. However, with the proposed pre-treatment of hydrothermal conditioning and subsequent dewatering, both lupine-containing and lupine-free semi-natural grassland biomass could achieve adequate values for combustion, given that a state-of-the-art combustion technique is used, including measures to reduce emissions of NOx and particulate matter. Thus, solid fuel production through hydrothermal conditioning and mechanical separation may offer a practical solution for the containment of lupine or other invasive species in semi-natural grasslands and may constitute an important element for sustainable bioenergy production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Evaluation of Ecological Criteria of Biofuel Certification in Germany
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 936; doi:10.3390/su8090936
Received: 16 June 2016 / Revised: 26 August 2016 / Accepted: 2 September 2016 / Published: 13 September 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1117 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The share of biofuels has increased significantly over the last decade, which has lead to several negative impacts on the environment. As a solution, several governments worldwide have promoted the use of certification systems, which have been implemented and in some cases have
[...] Read more.
The share of biofuels has increased significantly over the last decade, which has lead to several negative impacts on the environment. As a solution, several governments worldwide have promoted the use of certification systems, which have been implemented and in some cases have even been established as mandatory regulations. Due to the focus of the public debate, standard-setting has mainly been limited to developing and newly industrializing countries. Hence, the issues of environmental impacts as a consequence of agricultural intensification in Germany has been given little attention, and the question whether existing biofuel certification systems sufficiently cover ecological issues remains. In order to answer this question, this study performs a benchmarking analysis of selected certification systems, whereby their ability to ensure ecological sustainability is evaluated and compared. The assessment reveals that the currently existing national ordinances, like Cross Compliance, are in many aspects insufficient to ensure sustainability. Contrarily, they often deter necessary discussions to tackle these issues. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Production of Biodiesel Using Immobilized Lipase and the Characterization of Different Co-Immobilizing Agents and Immobilization Methods
Sustainability 2016, 8(9), 764; doi:10.3390/su8090764
Received: 2 June 2016 / Revised: 29 July 2016 / Accepted: 1 August 2016 / Published: 24 August 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (4317 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Lipase from Candida sp. 99–125 is widely employed to catalyzed transesterification and can be used for biodiesel production. In this study, the lipase was immobilized by combined adsorption and entrapment to catalyze biodiesel production from waste cooking oil (WCO) via transesterification, and investigating
[...] Read more.
Lipase from Candida sp. 99–125 is widely employed to catalyzed transesterification and can be used for biodiesel production. In this study, the lipase was immobilized by combined adsorption and entrapment to catalyze biodiesel production from waste cooking oil (WCO) via transesterification, and investigating co-immobilizing agents as additives according to the enzyme activity. The addition of the mixed co-immobilizing agents has positive effects on the activities of the immobilized lipase. Three different immobilizing methods were compared by the conversion ratio of biodiesel and structured by Atom Force Microscopy (AFM) and Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), respectively. It was found that entrapment followed by adsorption was the best method. The effect of the co-immobilizing agent amount, lipase dosage, water content, and reuse ability of the immobilized lipase was investigated. By comparison with previous research, this immobilized lipase showed good reuse ability: the conversion ratio excesses 70% after 10 subsequent reactions, in particular, was better than Novozym435 and TLIM on waste cooking oil for one unit of lipase. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle Comparative Advantage of Maize- and Grass-Silage Based Feedstock for Biogas Production with Respect to Greenhouse Gas Mitigation
Sustainability 2016, 8(7), 617; doi:10.3390/su8070617
Received: 19 May 2016 / Revised: 23 June 2016 / Accepted: 24 June 2016 / Published: 30 June 2016
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1693 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This paper analyses the comparative advantage of using silage maize or grass as feedstock for anaerobic digestion to biogas from a greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation point of view, taking into account site-specific yield potentials, management options, and land-use change effects. GHG emissions due
[...] Read more.
This paper analyses the comparative advantage of using silage maize or grass as feedstock for anaerobic digestion to biogas from a greenhouse gas (GHG) mitigation point of view, taking into account site-specific yield potentials, management options, and land-use change effects. GHG emissions due to the production of biogas were calculated using a life-cycle assessment approach for three different site conditions with specific yield potentials and adjusted management options. While for the use of silage maize, GHG emissions per energy unit were the same for different yield potentials, and the emissions varied substantially for different grassland systems. Without land-use change effects, silage maize-based biogas had lower GHG emissions per energy unit compared to grass-based biogas. Taking land-use change into account, results in a comparative advantage of biogas production from grass-based feedstock produced on arable land compared to silage maize-based feedstock. However, under current frame conditions, it is quite unrealistic that grass production systems would be established on arable land at larger scale. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview Microalgae Potential and Multiple Roles—Current Progress and Future Prospects—An Overview
Sustainability 2016, 8(12), 1215; doi:10.3390/su8121215
Received: 29 August 2016 / Revised: 7 November 2016 / Accepted: 21 November 2016 / Published: 25 November 2016
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1885 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Substantial progress has been made in algal technologies in past few decades. Initially, microalgae drew the attention of the scientific community as a renewable source of biofuels due to its high productivity over a short period of time and potential of significant lipid
[...] Read more.
Substantial progress has been made in algal technologies in past few decades. Initially, microalgae drew the attention of the scientific community as a renewable source of biofuels due to its high productivity over a short period of time and potential of significant lipid accumulation. As of now, a technological upsurge has elaborated its scope in phycoremediation of both organic and inorganic pollutants. The dual role of microalgae—i.e., phycoremediation coupled with energy production—is well established, however, commercially, algal biofuel production is not yet sustainable due to high energy inputs. Efforts are being made to make the algal biofuel economy through modification in the cultivation conditions, harvesting, and extraction of value added products. Recent studies have demonstrated algal biomass production with various types of wastewater and industrial effluents. Similarly, the recent advent of eco-friendly harvesting technologies—such as low-cost green coagulants, electrochemical harvesting, etc.—are energy efficient and economical. Contemporary improvement in efficient lipid extraction from biomass will make algal biodiesel economical. The absolute extraction of all the value added products from algal biomass, either whole cell or lipid extracted biomass, in a complete biorefinery approach will be more economical and eco-friendly. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biomass Energy Conversion)
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