Low-Cost Biodiesel From Microalgae
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Low-Cost Biodiesel From Microalgae By INSPIRE Faculty From NIT

The fuel potential of algae residing in the vast marine environment surrounding India remains unexplored, while fossil fuels deplete. For biodiesel production, the efforts a scientist who is working on biotechnological studies and tools for increasing the lipid accumulation in microalgae might soon turn low-cost biodiesel from microalgae of marine origin a reality.

From the National Institute of Technology, Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, Dr. T. Mathimani started exploring alternative fuels from renewable and sustainable sources after realizing the rapid depletion of petroleum-based fuels. This route to sustainable fuels inspired him as microalgae present a series of advantages over other biofuel feedstock, and the use of microalgae has been strongly considered for the production of biofuels, with different types of biofuels that have been explored recently.

The INSPIRE faculty fellowship instituted by the Department of Science & Technology, Govt. of India was given to Dr. T. Mathimani, for his submission on techniques for enhancing Triacylglycerol content in marine microalgae towards economic biodiesel production.

Predominant strains of marine microalgal species namely Chlorella sp., Scenedesmus sp., Picochlorum sp., were isolated by Dr. T. Mathimani’s and his team in his research supported by this award published

in the journal ‘Chemosphere’. These were isolated from the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu for their potential in terms of Triacylglycerides(TAG) content for biodiesel production, and total organic carbon content.

Now, they are focusing on other microalgal candidates for switchable polarity solvent (SPS) system based lipid extraction and their multiple biotechnological potentials. SPS can be reused as a green solvent for algal lipid extraction with no effect on the environment and it is an energy-efficient switchable solvent, that can be recovered devoid of any thermal processes. TAG accumulation can be escalated for increasing biodiesel yield using metabolic engineering approaches, magnetic nanocomposite (MNC) can be used for several cycles of algal dewatering, and to scale down the biodiesel production cost significantly, its treated culture suspension can be reused. For sustainable and lowcost production of biodiesel, these three approaches would be considered in their study.

A roadmap by which biodiesel can be put in an energy market sustainably and can be produced commercially will be formulated by the group.

Low-Cost Biodiesel From Microalgae By INSPIRE Faculty From NIT