Production of biodiesel from vegetable oil and microalgae by fatty acid extraction and enzymatic esterification
•Biodiesel production from free fatty acids extracted from wet microalgal biomass.•92.6% yield was attained in soft conditions by lipase catalyzed esterification.•Biodiesel is purer (78.6 %) than the produced by transesterification of lipids.•The lipase is very stable in the esterification conditions.•Enzymatic catalysis consumes less methanol and energy than acid catalysis.
The aim of this work was to obtain biodiesel (methyl esters) from the saponifiable lipids (SLs) fraction of the microalga Nannochloropsis gaditana, whose biomass dry weight contains 12.1 wt% of these lipids. SLs were extracted from the microalga as free fatty acids (FFAs) for subsequent transformation to methyl esters (biodiesel) by enzymatic esterification. Extraction as FFAs rather than as SLs allows them to be obtained with higher purity. Microalgal FFAs were obtained by direct saponification of lipids in the biomass and subsequent extraction-purification with hexane. Esterification of FFAs with methanol was catalysed by lipase Novozym 435 from Candida antarctica. Stability studies of this lipase in the operational conditions showed that the esterification degree (ED) attained with the same batch of lipase remained constant over six reaction cycles (36 h total reaction time). The optimal conditions attained for 4 g of FFAs were 25°C, 200 rpm, methanol/FFA molar ratio of 1.5:1, Novozym 435/FFA ratio of 0.025:1 w/w and 4 h reaction time. In these conditions the ED attained was 92.6%, producing a biodiesel with 83 wt% purity from microalgal FFAs. Several experimental scales were tested (from 4 to 40 g FFAs), and in all cases similar EDs were obtained.
Journal: Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering - Volume 119, Issue 6, June 2015, Pages 706–711