Strategies for Lipid Production Improvement in Microalgae as a Biodiesel Feedstock

Significance Statement

As the transition to cleaner energy grows, researchers have been working endless hours to achieve green energy that is economically feasible. Microalgae accepted as a source of cleaner energy and can replace use of cultivated crops as food feedstock. Moreover, microalgae present a promising alternative source for the production of biodiesel, due to a high lipid content in microalgal cells. During the photosynthesis of microalgae, neutral lipids are accumulated as triacylglycerols in microalgal cells, improving lipid content in microalgal cells would lead to a sustainable development of microalgal biodiesel.

To induce microalgal lipid accumulation, it involves application of feasible strategies. Liandong  Zhu and colleagues wrote a recent review published in BioMed Research International, aimed to bridge the gap and to systematically concentrate on the main lipid induction strategies that can evidently promote microalgal lipid production.

The authors discussed two types of lipids, neutral lipids that serve as the energy reserves and polar lipids that are constituents of organelles and membranes. To improve the lipid production, external cultivation conditions, such as light intensity, temperature, carbon dioxide, nutrient starvation, salinity stress, and metal stress must be considered.

From the researchers’ observation, positive light intensity increases lipid accumulation functions only up to a limit while extremely high light intensity will cause photoinhibition, damaging the microalgal photosystems, and thus reduce lipid accumulation. The effect of the temperature is said to be same as light intensity in that it varies directly with temperature. The salinity stress created inside the cells results in increment in the lipid content, on the other hand nutrient starvation was found to be feasible and environmentally friendly approach for the control of the cell cycle to enhance lipid productivity.

This paper strategized on promoting microalgae lipid production and the authors identified the application of nutrient starvation as the most efficient strategy to work with and optimum lipid production can be achieved by combining strategies together.

The research undertaken is partially funded by TranAlgae. This is a network of relevant stakeholders within the algae industry in the Botnia-Atlantica region with the aim of implementing innovative solutions for the production of micro- and macroalgae biomass from waste streams at industrial scale. This study is said to provide stakeholders, authorities, and practitioners with the foundation for better understanding microalgal lipid induction strategies and their significances in practice.

Strategies for Lipid Production Improvement in Microalgae as a Biodiesel Feedstock Fig 1 - renewable energy global innovations

Strategies for Lipid Production Improvement in Microalgae as a Biodiesel Feedstock fig 2 - renewable energy global innovations

About the author

Dr. Liandong Zhu is an assistant professor at the Faculty of Technology of the University of Vaasa and Vaasa Energy Institute, Finland. Through Talent Program, he has also been selected as a professor in several leading Chinese universities. In January 2014 he graduated from the University of Vaasa as a doctor in the area of biofuels. He is also the recipient of the Åbo Akademi Award and Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Student Abroad.

His background is environmental engineering and his doctoral and current research resides in biodiesel production by integration of microalgae cultivation with wastewater treatment. Until now, he has published more than 50 papers in many esteemed peer-reviewed scientific journals, such as Water Research, Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Energy, Bioresource Technology, Applied Energy, Biofuels, Bioproducts and Biorefining (Biofpr) and Ecological Engineering. In total, the current impact factor (IF) of his papers has reached up to 101 points. According to Google Scholar, his papers have been well cited and the current H-index reaches 13. According to the Web of Science (ESI), three of his papers were marked as highly cited papers.

In addition, Dr. Zhu serves as the Lead Guest Editor of the BioMed Research International, Associate Editor of the JSM Environmental Science & Ecology and the reviewer for more than 40 journals including Environmental Science & Technology, Water Research, Energy, Applied Energy, etc.

Currently Dr. Zhu is working on TransAlgae project, receiving funding from EU’s Botnia-Atlantica Programme: Dr. Zhu’s previous research has also been well reported by two local Finnish newspapers (Pohjalainen and Ilkka) on their cover pages. Dr. Zhu’s research interests fall into the scopes of wastewater treatment, biofuels, waste recycling, and sustainable development. Dr. Zhu welcomes all kinds of cooperation in research, project application, publications and academic exchange or visits.

About the author

Professor Zhaohua Li is the Dean of the School of Resources and Environmental Science. He was born in 1964 at Hubei Province in China, educated at China, the U.K. and Germany. His research spans including plant ecology, aquatic ecology, and environmental ecology. Professor Li is of broad members of Chinese Geographical Association and Chinese Association of Agricultural Resources and Zonning.

He received an Honorary of National Advanced Workers from Chinese government and more than 10 awards from Chinese ministries and Hubei Province. He has published 22 research works and 176 papers.

About the author

Erkki Hiltunen is a Professor and Research Director of the Faculty of Technology of the University of Vaasa, Finland. He is also the leader of Renewable Energy Research Group of the Faculty of Technology of the University of Vaasa.

His research interests are renewable energy, environmental protection and sustainable development. He has published more than 80 articles in journals and conference proceedings.

Journal Reference

L.D. Zhu1,2, Z. H. Li2, and E. Hiltunen1, Strategies for Lipid Production Improvement in Microalgae as a Biodiesel Feedstock, BioMed Research International, Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 8792548, 8 pages.

Show Affiliations
  1. Faculty of Technology, University of Vaasa and Vaasa Energy Institute, P.O. Box 700, 65101 Vaasa, Finland
  2. Hubei Collaborative Innovation Center for Green Transformation of Bio-Resources and Faculty of Resources and Environmental Science, Hubei University, Wuhan 430062, China


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