Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology

, Volume 24, Issue 1, pp 355–361 | Cite as

Production of methyl ester fuel from microalgae

  • Nick Nagle
  • Pete Lemke
Session 2 Applied Biological Research


Microalgae are unique photosynthetic organisms that are known to accumulate storage lipids in large quantitites and thrive in saline waters. Before these storage lipids can be used, they must be extracted from the microalgae and converted into usable fuel. Transesterification of lipids produces fatty acid methyl esters that can be used as a diesel fuel substitute.

Three solvents, 1-butanol, ethanol, and hexane/2-propanol, were evaluated for extraction efficiency of microalgal lipids. Type of catalyst, concentration of catalyst, time of reaction, temperature of reaction, and quality of lipid were examined as variables for transesterification. The most efficient solvent of the three for extraction was 1-butanol (90% efficiency), followed by hexane/2-propanol and ethanol. Optimal yield of fatty acid methyl esters was obtained using 0.6N hydrochloric acid in methanol for 0.1 h at 70°C.

Index Entries

Microalgae methylesters lipids extraction conversion 


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nick Nagle
    • 1
  • Pete Lemke
    • 1
  1. 1.Algal and Plant Sciences Section, Biotechnology Research Branch, Solar Fuels Research DivisionSolar Energy Research InstituteGolden

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