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J Biotechnol. 2006 Dec 1;126(4):499-507.

High quality biodiesel production from a microalga Chlorella protothecoides by heterotrophic growth in fermenters.

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Department of Biological Science and Biotechnology, Tsinghua University, Beijing 10084, PR China.


The aim of the study was to obtain high quality biodiesel production from a microalga Chlorella protothecoids through the technology of transesterification. The technique of metabolic controlling through heterotrophic growth of C. protothecoides was applied, and the heterotrophic C. protothecoides contained the crude lipid content of 55.2%. To increase the biomass and reduce the cost of alga, corn powder hydrolysate instead of glucose was used as organic carbon source in heterotrophic culture medium in fermenters. The result showed that cell density significantly increased under the heterotrophic condition, and the highest cell concentration reached 15.5 g L(-1). Large amount of microalgal oil was efficiently extracted from the heterotrophic cells by using n-hexane, and then transmuted into biodiesel by acidic transesterification. The biodiesel was characterized by a high heating value of 41 MJ kg(-1), a density of 0.864 kg L(-1), and a viscosity of 5.2 x 10(-4) Pa s (at 40 degrees C). The method has great potential in the industrial production of liquid fuel from microalga.

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