Microwave-mediated non-catalytic transesterification of algal biomass under supercritical ethanol conditions

Prafulla D. Patil, Harvind Reddy, Tapaswy Muppaneni, Sundaravadivelnathan Ponnusamy, Peter Cooke, Tanner Schuab, Shuguang Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


A novel integrated approach has been proposed to convert lipid-rich, dry algae (Nannochloropsis salina) into fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEE) under microwave-mediated supercritical ethanol (MW-SCE) conditions with a non-catalytic transesterification approach. This process enables simultaneous extraction of lipids from algal biomass and conversion/transesterification of them into algal biodiesel in a relatively short reaction time, which may reduce energy consumption versus traditional processes due to simplified separation and purification steps. High conversion rates can be possible when the extractive-transesterification of algal biomass is performed near-critical or supercritical conditions. The use of passive heating elements made of silicon carbide (SiC) to aid the microwave-mediated heating process at higher temperatures is also described. Experimental runs were designed to optimize the process parameters to evaluate the effect on the algal biodiesel under controlled power conditions. The algal biomass characterization and algal biodiesel analysis were performed using various analytical instruments such as FTIR, SEM-EDS, TGA and GC-MS. It was demonstrated in this work that this direct conversion technique has the potential to provide an energy-efficient and economical route for algal biodiesel production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-72
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Supercritical Fluids
StatePublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Algal biomass
  • Biodiesel
  • Extractive transesterification
  • Microwave irradiation
  • Supercritical ethanolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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