Journal of biological engineering

Lipase-catalyzed biodiesel production and quality with Jatropha curcas oil: exploring its potential for Central America.

PMID 26213567


Extensive native Jatropha curcas L. (Jatropha) crop areas have been planted in Central America marginal lands since 2008 as a non-edible prospective feedstock alternative to high-value, edible palm oil. Jatropha biodiesel is currently exclusively produced in the region at commercial scale utilizing alkaline catalysts. Recently, a free, soluble Thermomyces lanuginosus (TL) 1,3 specific lipase has shown promise as biocatalyst, reportedly yielding up to 96xa0% ASTM D6751 compliant biodiesel after 24xa0h transesterification of soybean, canola oils and other feedstocks. Biodiesel conversion rate and quality of enzymatically catalyzed transesterification of Jatropha oil was evaluated. Two lipases: free, soluble TL and immobilized Candida antarctica (CA) catalyzed methanolic transesterification of crude Jatropha and refined palm oil. Jatropha yields were similar to palm biodiesel with NaOH as catalyst. After 24xa0h transesterification, Jatropha (81xa0%) and palm oil (86xa0%) biodiesel yields with TL as catalyst were significantly higher than CA (<70xa0%) but inferior to NaOH (>90xa0%). Enzymatic catalysts (TL and CA) produced Jatropha biodiesel with optimum flow properties but did not complied with ASTM D6751 stability parameters (free fatty acid content and oil stability index). Biodiesel production with filtered, degummed, low FFA Jatropha oil using a free liquid lipase (TL) as catalyst showed higher yielding potential than immobilized CA lipase as substitute of RBD palm oil with alkaline catalyst. However, Jatropha enzymatic biodiesel yield and stability were inferior to alkaline catalyzed biodiesel and not in compliance with international quality standards. Lower quality due to incomplete alcoholysis and esterification, potential added costs due to need of more than 24xa0h to achieve comparable biodiesel yields and extra post-transesterification refining reactions are among the remaining drawbacks for the environmentally friendlier enzymatic catalysis of crude Jatropha oil to become an economically viable alternative to chemical catalysis.