Over the last decades, microalgal biomass has gained a significant role in the development of different high-end (nutraceuticals, colorants, food supplements, and pharmaceuticals) and low-end products (biodiesel, bioethanol, and biogas) due to its rapid growth and high carbon-fixing efficiency. Therefore, microalgae are considered a useful and sustainable resource to attain energy security while reducing our current reliance on fossil fuels. From the technologies available for obtaining biofuels using microalgae biomass, thermochemical processes (pyrolysis, Hydrothermal Liquefaction (HTL), gasification) have proven to be processed with higher viability, because they use all biomass. However, due to the complex structure of the biomass (lipids, carbohydrates, and proteins), the obtained biofuels from direct thermochemical conversion have large amounts of heteroatoms (oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur). As a solution, catalyst-based processes have emerged as a sustainable solution for the increase in biocrude production. This paper’s objective is to present a comprehensive review of recent developments on the catalyst-mediated conversion of algal biomass. Special attention will be given to operating conditions, strains evaluated, and challenges for the optimal yield of algal-based biofuels through pyrolysis and HTL.
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