Biodiesel from microalgae
Tutor / director / evaluatorZanzi, Rolamdo
Document typeMaster thesis (pre-Bologna period)
Rights accessOpen Access
In this project we will travel back in time to the nineteenth century to discover the inventor of the diesel engine, Rudolf Diesel, and his renewable fuel vision that is only now being realized. Biodiesel has received considerable attention in recent years as it is biodegradable, renewable and non-toxic fuel. It emits less gaseous pollutants than conventional diesel fuel, and can work directly in diesel engines with no required modifications. The most common way to produce biodiesel is by transesterification of the oils with an alcohol in the presence of a catalyst to yield fatty acid methyl esters and glycerin. The production of biodiesel from rapeseed oil and ethanol was experimented in the laboratory and results are discussed. The use of microalgae as a source of biofuels is an attractive proposition from the point of view that microalgae are photosynthetic renewable resources. They produce oils with high lipid content, have fast growth rates and are capable of growth in saline waters which are unsuitable for agriculture. The most important algae in terms of abundance are Diatoms, green algae, golden algae and Cyanobacteria (prokaryotic microorganisms). These ones are also referred to as microalgae in this project. Green algae and diatoms are the most used for biofuels production, because of their high storage of lipids in oil composition. This project provides an overview in the production of biodiesel from microalgae including different systems of cultivation such as open ponds and closed Photobioreactors, the methods of harvesting biomass and extracting the oil content. Microalgae have the ability to fix CO2 while capturing solar energy more efficiently than terrestrial plants and produce biomass for biodiesel production. Carbon mitigation offers an opportunity for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.