This study demonstrates the production of algal biodiesel from Dunaliella tertiolecta, Nannochloropsis oculata, wild freshwater microalgae, and macroalgae lipids using a highly efficient continuous catalytic process. The heterogeneous catalytic process uses supercritical methanol and porous titania microspheres in a fixed bed reactor to catalyze the simultaneous transesterification and esterification of triacylglycerides and free fatty acids, respectively, to fatty acid methyl esters (biodiesel). Triacylglycerides and free fatty acids were converted to alkyl esters with up to 85% efficiency as measured by 300MHz 1H NMR spectroscopy. The lipid composition of the different algae was studied gravimetrically and by gas chromatography. The analysis showed that even though total lipids comprised upwards of 19% of algal dry weight the saponifiable lipids, and resulting biodiesel, comprised only 1% of dry weight. Thus highlighting the need to determine the triacylglyceride and free fatty acid content when considering microalgae for biodiesel production.
- Heterogeneous catalyst