Cellulosic ethanol has been in the news for a while, and I’ll be surprised if you have not heard about it. Essentially, cellulosic ethanol refers to the ethanol derived from the cellulosic component of plants. A lot of woody parts of the plants, stems, leaves etc. – are rich in cellulose.
Thus, cellulosic ethanol provides a unique opportunity in which ethanol is produced not from corn that otherwise is used as food, but from a range of waste biomass, which are normally wasted anyway.
Ethanol from cellulose raises the interesting question of whether algae could be used as the biomass for ethanol production from cellulose? It appears that some species of algae do have the potential to be considered as a cellulosic feedstock for ethanol production. However, we have not seen many efforts taken in this area of research.
Macroalgae relatively contain a higher amount of cellulose when compared to microalgae and some efforts have been done to produce cellulosic ethanol from macroalgae. For instance, ethanol production technology from cellulose seaweed called Eucheuma denticulatum has been established in Korea. Similarly, in Vietnam, ethanol production from cellulose of Caulerpa racemosa and Ulva sp. is being extensively studied. In the big biofuels picture, however, these are minuscule efforts!
The markets for both pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals are growing quickly worldwide, and it is this global scope that particularly attracts marketers. A growing proportion of today’s promising pharmaceutical and nutraceutical research focuses on the production of promising compounds from algae. Thus, the untapped potential of algae in the field of pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals has to be still explored to grow and capitalize on tremendous global marketing opportunities.