Biofuel from Algae: Reactive Extraction
One of the most significant bottlenecks in the
production of biodiesel from algae is the drying
prior to reaction. This can require more energy
than is given out when the biofuel is combusted,
so not only is it a significant problem for the
economics of the process, but also for one of
raisons d’etre, the reduction of atmospheric
carbon dioxide (as the energy is almost
certainly largely from fossil fuels). Almost all of the water has to be removed
before reaction to biodiesel, as water causes a
side-reaction producing soap, reducing yield and
rendering downstream purification of the
biodiesel phase e.g. by water-washing difficult.
Reactive extraction is a process in which
extraction of the oil from the algal biomass and
the reaction of that oil to biodiesel are
combined into one step, by contacting the
biomass directly with methanol and catalyst.
Previous studies here at Newcastle on
various oilseeds have demonstrated that the
process is much more water-tolerant than the
conventional biodiesel reaction. The aim of this
project is to investigate the feasibility of
using reactive extraction to convert wet algal
biomass by this method.
Due to previous and ongoing work in this area
all facilities are in place to extend this
technique to algae.
For more details, please contact
Harvey or Dr Jon Lee.