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The continuous reliance on fossil fuels is unsustainable, due to the depletion of global reserves and the greenhouse gas emissions associated with their use. Therefore, there are vigorous research initiatives intended to develop renewable alternatives. Microalgae are a promising alternative for biodiesel production and have received increasing attention during the last few decades. However, is not yet sufficiently cost-effective to compete with petroleum-based conventional fuels. This happens essentially because of downstream processing – harvesting microalgae biomass and extraction of lipids are two of the most expensive processes from the overall process. Harvesting, drying, cell disruption, oil extraction and transesterification (into biodiesel) are highlighted processes in this review article. The techniques associated with each process present advantages and handicaps that are here discussed. Improvements that will directly affect the final production costs of microalgal biomass-based biofuels are also proposed.
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