Biodiesel made from algae. (Photo: Stockfile)
Suitable microalgae strains to produce biodiesel identified
Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 01:30 (GMT + 9)
A team of researchers from the National University of Colombia (UNC) identified two strains of native freshwater microalgae that have great potential to produce biofuels: Scenedesmus ovalternus and Chlorella vulgaris.
After having been researching for four years, the group determined the suitable conditions to obtain biodiesel in an alternative way with an impact that is less negative on the environment.
In addition, this biofuel has a higher productivity level than the biodiesel produced from vegetable oils.
Luis Miguel Serrano Bermudez, Master in Chemical Engineering at the UNC and one of the authors of the study, explains that neither the bioethanol (made from the fermentation of corn or sugar cane) nor the biodiesel (made from palm oil, soybean or other grains) can respond to the global fuel demand with environmental and economic sustainability.
Colombia has a high abundance of water and light, which is essential for farming microalgae.
The two species of microalgae studied had the highest productivity of fats, with a value that is equal to 4.1 times the productivity of the African palm, which is the current raw material used by the domestic industry for biodiesel.
During the investigation, Serrano found that the microalga Chlorella vulgaris has a better profile as a potential source to produce biodiesel, as its fat accumulation was 25 per cent higher with respect to Scenedesmus ovalternus. That means that the extraction process is 25 per cent cheaper, Unimedios reported.
Scientists clarify that for the massive cultivation of microalgae, several aspects should be considered:
- Choosing the right strain, which should have high lipid productivity and high percentages of intracellular lipid accumulation due to the high costs of the extraction process;
- Selecting the conditions and suitable cultivation mode and the method of biomass recovery and fats that allow the process to be economically feasible.
By Analia Murias