According to estimates of the intergovernmental panel on climate change, the continued use of oil based-energy is responsible for more than two thirds of the anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. In Brazil, the National Program for use and biodiesel production has looked for the diversification of feedstock for biodiesel production. Among several alternative sources of energy, microalgae biomass shows great potential to be used as raw material for producing biodiesel. Rich in lipids and fatty acids, the oil yield per hectare in some strains of microalgae is considerably higher than the most conventional oilseed crops such as palm, Jatropha, soybean and sunflower. The commercial production triggered strong interest at the 1960s, with the development of a series of technologies to cultivate microalgae in open ponds and photobioreactors. Industrial or agricultural wastes such as vinasse previously treated in anaerobic digesters, for example, can be recycled and reused through the cultivation of microalgae, besides the application in the fertirrigation of sugar cane crop. This would also qualify the cultivation of microalgae as a clean development mechanism to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases.
Key words: Biodiesel from microalgae, clean development mechanism, greenhouse gases, large-scale production, oil yield, vinasse.
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