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J Biotechnol. 2004 May 13;110(1):85-93.

High yield bio-oil production from fast pyrolysis by metabolic controlling of Chlorella protothecoides.

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  • 1Department of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, PR China.


The use of renewable energy sources is becoming increasingly necessary to mitigate global warming. Recently much research has been focused on identifying suitable biomass species, which can provide high-energy outputs, to replace conventional fossil fuels. This paper reports an approach for increasing the yield of bio-oil production from fast pyrolysis after manipulating the metabolic pathway in microalgae through heterotrophic growth. The yield of bio-oil (57.9%) produced from heterotrophic Chlorella protothecoides cells was 3.4 times higher than from autotrophic cells by fast pyrolysis. The bio-oil was characterized by a much lower oxygen content, with a higher heating value (41 MJ kg(-1)), a lower density (0.92 kg l(-1)), and lower viscosity (0.02 Pas) compared to those of bio-oil from autotrophic cells and wood. These properties are comparable to fossil oil. The research could contribute to the creation of a system to produce energy from microalgae, and also could have great commercial potential for liquid fuel production.

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