Microalgal Biomass as a Biorefinery Platform for Biobutanol and Biodiesel Production

Gonzalo Figueroa Torres, Wan Mohd Asyraf Bin Wan Mahmood, Jon Pittman, Constantinos Theodoropoulos

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Microalgal biorefineries have recently emerged as a potentially economically viable option for the co-production of value-added products and fuels, such as biodiesel (via the transesterification of lipids) and biobutanol (via the fermentation of carbohydrates). Whilst microalgal biodiesel has been
studied extensively, microalgal biobutanol has received less attention due to the low product yields of the biochemical process from which biobutanol is obtained: the Acetone-Butanol-Ethanol (ABE) fermentation. In this work, we evaluate the potential of a microalgae-based biorefinery by: i) quantifying biobutanol production via ABE fermentation of microalgae (raw and hydrolysate form) using a medium optimised via surface response analysis (SRA) methodology; ii) quantifying biodiesel (fatty acid methyl esthers, FAMEs) production via transesterification of microalgae (raw, hydrolysed, and fermented form). Using SRA-optimised medium, butanol fermentation yields of
10.31% (g g-1 cdw) and 10.07% (g g-1 glucose) were attained by microalgae in raw and hydrolysate form, respectively. Meanwhile, the raw, hydrolysed, and fermented microalgae yielded up to 0.92 %, 3.82 % and 3.29 % (g g-1 cdw) biodiesel, respectively. Results highlight the importance of pretreatment methods and further support the development of microalgal biorefineries for dual biofuel production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107396
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Early online date3 Oct 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jan 2020


  • biobutanol
  • biodiesel
  • biorefineries
  • fermentation
  • micoalgae


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