Fatty Acid Compositions of Solvent Extracted Lipids from Two Microalgae 2009-01-3236
Oil extracted from microalgae has the potential to offset demand for petroleum, if conditions of cost and scale can be met. In this paper, we present the compositional differences of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) obtained by solvent extraction from two different oleaginous microalgae. Oil samples were extracted from a proprietary alga (Alga X) and a more common Nannochloropsis oculata (NC) using the Soxhlet process with n-hexane. The neutral lipids contained in Alga X comprised approximately 40 to 60% of the algal dry weight, and the oil was mostly converted to methyl esters using a transesterification process. On the other hand, NC produced approximately 25% lipids, but the yield of methyl esters was often less than 1% and subject to high variation. FAMEs were analyzed using gas chromatography and the average chain lengths for NC were shown to be greater than the average chain lengths for Alga X. These results suggest that the fuel chain length, and hence the fuel properties, can be significantly influenced by the strain of microalgae from which the biofuel is derived.