Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

, Volume 40, Issue 5, pp 723–730 | Cite as

Efficient solvothermal wet in situ transesterification of Nannochloropsis gaditana for biodiesel production

  • Bora Kim
  • Yong Keun Chang
  • Jae W. LeeEmail author
Research Paper


In situ transesterification of wet microalgae is a promising, simplified alternative biodiesel production process that replaces multiple operations of cell drying, extraction, and transesterification reaction. This study addresses enhanced biodiesel production from Nannochloropsis gaditana at elevated temperatures. Compared with the previously reported in situ transesterification process of conducting the reaction at a temperature ranging from 95 to 125 °C, the present work employs higher temperatures of at least 150 °C. This relatively harsh condition allows much less acid catalyst with or without co-solvent to be used during this single extraction-conversion process. Without any co-solvent, 0.58% (v/v) of H2SO4 in the reaction medium can achieve 90 wt% of the total lipid conversion to biodiesel at 170 °C when the moisture content of wet algal paste is 80 wt%. Here, the effects of temperature, acid catalyst, and co-solvent on the FAEE yield and specification were scrutinized, and the reaction kinetic was investigated to understand the solvothermal in situ transesterification reaction at the high temperature. Having a biphasic system (water/chloroform) during the reaction also helped to meet biodiesel quality standard EN 14214, as Na+, K+, Ca2+, Mg2+ cations and phosphorus were detected only below 5 ppm. With highlights on the economic feasibility, wet in situ transesterification at the high temperature can contribute to sustainable production of biodiesel from microalgae by reducing the chemical input and relieve the burden of extensive post purification process, therefore a step towards green process.


In situ transesterification High temperature Microalgae Fatty acid ethyl ester (FAEE) Sulfuric acid 



This work was supported by the Advanced Biomass R&D Center (ABC) as the Global Frontier Project funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (ABC-2010-0029728).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringKAISTDaejeonRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.ABC Biomass R&D CenterKAISTDaejeonRepublic of Korea

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