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Lipid quality of the diatoms Skeletonema costatum and Navicula gregaria from the South Atlantic Coast (Argentina): evaluation of its suitability as biodiesel feedstock

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Abstract

Since the fatty acid ester profile of a given biofuel is relatively consistent with the source’s fatty acid profile, the properties of the biodiesel produced from a particular feedstock exhibit predictable quality. Thus, lipid fractions and the fatty acid composition of stationary growth-phase cultures of the local strains of the diatoms Skeletonema costatum and Navicula gregaria were analysed to evaluate their suitability as biodiesel feedstock. Total lipid content was 20.83 pg cell−1 in S. costatum and 19.17 pg cell−1 in N. gregaria. Neutral lipids were the main fraction of total lipids in both species, accounting for ca. 65% and 76%, respectively. S. costatum was predominant in saturated fatty acids (SFAs; 43.48 %) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs; 40.11%), while N. gregaria was predominant in MUFAs (54.85%), followed by SFAs (33.42%). In S. costatum, the main fatty acids in neutral lipid fraction were myristic, palmitic, palmitoleic and oleic acids, while the main ones in N. gregaria were palmitic and palmitoleic acids. The oils extracted from these species presented linolenic acid contents within biodiesel’s quality specifications. However, in neutral lipid fraction both species showed eicosapentaenoic acid levels higher than the required limit. The lipid quality analysed in both species suggests that a biodiesel derived from these oils may present an acceptable cetane number, but likely poor cold-flow properties. This baseline information is useful for future research tending to find more suitable conditions in order to improve oil yield. In addition, both estuarine species neither compete with agriculture for food nor require farmland nor fresh water.

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Acknowledgements

Funds were provided by Secretaría de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación Productiva (SeCyT) de la República Argentina, Estudio Exploratorio No. E658/07PET29, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas de la República Argentina (CONICET) PIP 112-200801-00234, and Secretaría de Ciencia y Tecnología de la Universidad del Sur, PGI TIR. The authors gratefully acknowledge Erik Nielsen (Università degli Studi di Pavia, Italia) for his comments of the manuscript. P.I.L. is Research Member of CONICET.

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Correspondence to Cecilia A. Popovich.

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Popovich, C.A., Damiani, C., Constenla, D. et al. Lipid quality of the diatoms Skeletonema costatum and Navicula gregaria from the South Atlantic Coast (Argentina): evaluation of its suitability as biodiesel feedstock. J Appl Phycol 24, 1–10 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10811-010-9639-y

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