The production of fatty acids ethyl esters (FAEEs) to be used as biodiesel from oleaginous microalgae shows great opportunities as an attractive source for the production of renewable fuels without competing with human food. To ensure the economic viability and environmental sustainability of the microbial biomass as a raw material, the integration of its production and transformation into the biorefinery concept is required. In the present work, lipids from wet Isochrysis galbana
microalga were extracted with ethyl acetate with and without drying the microalgal biomass (dry and wet extraction method, respectively). Then, FAEEs were produced by lipase-catalyzed transesterification and esterification of the extracted lipids with ethanol using lipase B from Candida antarctica
(CALB) and Pseudomonas cepacia
(PC) lipase supported on SBA-15 mesoporous silica functionalized with amino groups. The conversion to FAEEs with CALB (97 and 85.5 mol% for dry and wet extraction, respectively) and PC (91 and 87 mol%) biocatalysts reached higher values than those obtained with commercial Novozym 435 (75 and 69.5 mol%). Due to the heterogeneous nature of the composition of microalgae lipids, mixtures with different CALB:PC biocatalyst ratio were used to improve conversion of wet-extracted lipids. The results showed that a 25:75 combi-lipase produced a significantly higher conversion to FAEEs (97.2 mol%) than those produced by each biocatalyst independently from wet-extracted lipids and similar ones than those obtained by each lipase from the dry extraction method. Therefore, that optimized combi-lipase biocatalyst, along with achieving the highest conversion to FAEEs, would allow improving viability of a biorefinery since biodiesel production could be performed without the energy-intensive step of biomass drying.
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