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Simplifying the Process of Microalgal Biodiesel Production Through In Situ Transesterification Technology

Authors Xu, Ruoyu
Mi, Yongli View this author's profile
Issue Date 2011
Source Journal of the American Oil Chemists' Society , v. 88, (1), 2011, Jan, p. 91-99
Summary Crop-based biofuels, including biodiesel, has sparked international concerns during recent years. Micro-algae have been strongly advocated as the most promising substitute for oil crops. However, the commercialization of microalgal biodiesel is hindered by the high costs of feed-stock and conventional production processes. This paper elucidates a simplified, scalable production process under conditions of least energetic demand, which integrates oil extraction and conversion into one step through in situ transesterification. Introducing a co-solvent is the key to success. Criteria for co-solvents applicable to the microalgal biodiesel industry are proposed. The overall biodiesel yield (OBY) of Spirulina was determined for benchmarking purposes, using the Bligh and Dyer protocol for oil extraction, and transesterification with potassium hydroxide. The performance in in situ transesterification of the selected co-solvents toluene, dichloromethane and diethyl ether, as well as the solvent combinations petroleum ether/toluene, toluene/methanol and dichloromethane/methanol, was evaluated by OBY. Among all the co-solvents tested, the toluene/methanol system, 2: 1 by volume ratio, demonstrated the highest efficiency, achieving a biodiesel yield of 76% of the OBY for the first in situ transesterification cycle and 10% for the second in situ transesterification cycle.
ISSN 0003-021X
Language English
Format Article
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