Algae are considered as a sustainable source of raw materials for a bio-based economy. By using sunlight as energy source and environmentally harmful CO2 as a C source, they can build up their entire biomass without the direct consumption of fossil fuels. With their large variance and ingredients that are not or only in small amounts in plants and other microorganisms, they offer an enormous potential for the industrial production of pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, bioplastics, proteins, feed / food / cosmetic additives and biofuels. It is advantageous that the production of algal biomass in photobioreactors does not require farmland, cultivation and harvesting is possible during the whole year and regardless of weather conditions, additionally up to 5-10 times higher biomass yields compared to vascular plants is possible.
Currently, the commercial use of microalgae has focused on a few strains, which are predominantly marketed in the form of biomass as food supplements and animal feed. The production of valueable products is still in its infancy and is essentially limited to high-quality products such as omega-3 fatty acids (docosahexaenoic acid, eicosapentaenoic acid) and pigments (astaxanthin, β-carotene, phycocyanin). The reason for this are the still too high production costs.
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