The imprudent use of fossil fuels has resulted in high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, leading to climate change and global warming. Reduction in GHG emissions and energy insecurity imposed by the depleting fossil fuel reserves led to the search for alternative sustainable fuels. Hydrogen is a potential alternative energy carrier and is of particular interest because hydrogen combustion releases only water. Hydrogen is also an important industrial feedstock. As an alternative energy carrier, hydrogen can be used in fuel cells for power generation. Current hydrogen production mainly relies on fossil fuels and is usually energy and CO2-emission intensive, thus the use of fossil fuel-derived hydrogen as a carbon-free fuel source is fallacious. Biohydrogen production can be achieved via microbial methods, and the use of microalgae for hydrogen production is outstanding due to the carbon mitigating effects and the utilization of solar energy as an energy source by microalgae. This review provides comprehensive information on the mechanisms of hydrogen production by microalgae and the enzymes involved. The major challenges in the commercialization of microalgae-based photobiological hydrogen production are critically analyzed and future research perspectives are discussed. Life cycle analysis and economic assessment of hydrogen production by microalgae are also presented.
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