Biosci. Biotech. Res. Comm. 11(2): 318-323 (2018)
The potential of certain algal species
as source of biodiesel
Ramendra Soni, Shriya Henry and Bhavana Tandon*
Department of Molecular and Cellular Engineering, Jacob Institute of Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Sam
Higginbottom University of Agriculture, Technology & Sciences, (SHUATS), Allahabad India
Biofuels are important source of renewable chemical energy, more precisely those that are available in liquid form.
Algal biofuel offers the advantage of being a low-emission fuel. Algal biofuel offers a clean source of renewable
energy. It burns without smoke and can be easily cultured in areas which are unsuitable for agriculture due to low
production and installation costs. It releases only carbon dioxide and water on burning and carbon dioxide is one that
is  xed from atmosphere during photosynthesis. In the present work,  ve algae samples were collected from differ-
ent sites. According to the maximum growth of algae in BG11 media, it was selected for mass culture of potentially
growing samples. They were kept for two weeks and optimized through various con rmatory tests. The  ame test and
transesteri cation test showed positive results for all  ve samples. These samples were mass cultured in pond and
oil was extracted using Soxhlet extractor with ethanol as solvent. The oil was recovered and transesteri cation was
performed to convert it to biodiesel.
*Corresponding Author:
Received 18
March, 2018
Accepted after revision 16
June, 2018
BBRC Print ISSN: 0974-6455
Online ISSN: 2321-4007 CODEN: USA BBRCBA
Thomson Reuters ISI ESC / Clarivate Analytics USA and
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© A Society of Science and Nature Publication, Bhopal India
2018. All rights reserved.
Online Contents Available at: http//
DOI: 10.21786/bbrc/11.1/19
Algae are a diverse group of eukaryotic organisms that
belong to the phylum Protista. These organisms use
light energy to convert CO
and H
O into carbohydrates
and other cellular products. During this process, oxy-
gen released. Algae are found anywhere there is water,
fresh water, salt water, and in the soil (Brown, 1969).
Macro-algae are de ned as the multicellular plants also
known as seaweeds found in salt or fresh water (Khark-
wal, 2012) whereas one of the miniscule plants known as
Micro-algae contributes in the production of around 60
percent of the earth’s oxygen. Such organisms comprise
of twenty  ve to thirty thousand species representing a
range of forms and sizes that can exist from unicellular
microscopic organism (microalgae) to multicellular large
size (macroalgae) (Ugoala, 2012). Due to the fact that the
oceans cover 70% of the earth’s surface, aquatic algae
Bhavana Tandon, Shriya Henry and Ramendra Soni
are major producer of oxygen and important users of
carbon dioxide. All algae are primarily made up of pro-
teins, carbohydrates, fats and nucleic acids in varying
proportions. While the percentage can vary with the type
of algae, some types of algae are made up of up to 40%
fatty acids based on their overall mass. It is this fatty
acid that can be extracted and converted into biofuel.
Due to the high lipid content, algal strains are of great
interest in the search for sustainable sources for the pro-
duction of biodiesel. Reports proclaim that Macro-algae
is composed of more than 2400 organic and chemical
free products with a great commercial value in indus-
tries such as pharmaceutical, biomedical, neutraceutical,
etc. (Saranya, 2013).
Fuel derived from plants, animals or algal resources
can not only bring an initiative to preserve a healthful
global environment but also shall prove to be a substi-
tute in order to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
High lipid content, ease of cultivation, cost effective
and rapid growth rate is the factors that make microal-
gae to become a desired candidate for biofuel produc-
tion (Alam, 2015). Over the past decade there have been
plenty of advancements in algal technology for biofuel
production. Algae is considered as a traditional food or
feed and can be cultured in huge open ponds or closed
photo bioreactors placed on non-arable land. Certain
algal species have a high potential as the oil-producer
as compared to oil crops. It can be isolated from various
carbon (CO
) sources and further processed in a wide
spectrum of products like biodiesel, gasoline replace-
ments, green diesel, methane, bioethanol, heat, high
protein animal feed, bio-oil, etc. (Yang, 2016).
In the future of transport sector various biofuels,
including bio-ethanol, -methanol, -diesel- and –hydro-
gen appear to be appealing options. Therefore, it is
essential to look for novel feedstock sources which ar
suitable for biofuel production and does not withdraw
the supply of edible feedstock. Algae can be an alterna-
tive to the conventional crop. Algae or cyanobacteria
based third generation technology contains an elevated
oil mass fraction grown in ponds (Suganya, 2016). It is
a favourable source of third generation renewable fuels.
However, the procedure of biofuel production from the
growth of microalgae till the last step is still not contem-
plated economically viable (Laamanen, 2016). Microal-
gae have various autotrophic capabilities which add an
element of  exibility as compared to conventional fuels.
They are also supported by fundamental nutrients which
capture solar energy to  x the amount of carbon dioxide
and split water (Hallenbeck, 2016). The production of
biodiesel using algae demands the conversion of algal
biomass through transester cation (Kandiyoti, 2017).
It is a process in which lipids are simultaneously sepa-
rated and trans esteri ed from microalgae cell walls and
trans esteri cation is generally used for heterotrophic
microalgae (Veillette, 2017). Further research is needed
to discover the most energy ef cient, cost effective and
high yield extraction process to amplify the economic
viability of global algae biofuels sector. This will address
all the crucial technical trials which affect the produc-
tion processes involved. Hence, these aforementioned
research when incorporated with government emission
policies will fast-track the date when algal biofuel pro-
duction can be a commercial enterprise. In the  eld of
science and research to succeed fossil fuels, algae feed-
stock has appeared as a suitable candidate not only for
its renewable and sustainable characteristics but also
for its economic reliability based on the prospective to
match up with the global demand for transportation
fuels (Adeniyi, 2018).
In the present study, fresh water algae were collected
from 5 below mentioned sites and denoted as R1, R2, R3,
R4 and R5. (Orchid, SHIATS R1, Agriculture Department,
SHIATS: R2, Forestry Department, SHIATS:R3, Arail
Ghat, Allahabad:R4 and Saraswati Ghat, Allahabad: R5).
Algae culture was carried out in tissue culture bot-
tles with 3 different growth media and one was in dis-
tilled water as control. 2 gm of algae was inoculated in
each media and further in open land area in polybags,
these media were following-Bolds Basal Medium (BBM)
(Nichols and Bold, 1965), Bristol Medium, (Bold, 1949)
and BG11 medium (Stanier, 1971). Oil extraction from
algae using Soxhlet apparatus was performed as per the
method of Franz von Soxhlet, (1879). The algae was
dried by exposure to hot air oven at 60
C for 1 hour.
After complete drying, the algae were blended to get
powder. A 25 gm sample of the dried algae was placed
in the thimble, which was loaded in the main chamber of
Soxhlet extractor. The Soxhlet extractor was placed onto
a  ask containing extraction solvent i.e. 95% ethanol.
The solvent was heated to re ux, so it forms vapors,
which travels up a distillation arm, and  oods into the
chamber housing the thimble of algae powder. Some of
the desired compound will then dissolve in the warm
ethanol. When the Soxhlet chamber was almost full, the
chamber was automatically emptied by the siphon side
arm, with ethanol running back to the distillation  ask.
This cycle was repeated for three to four times. During
each cycle, a portion of the oil is dissolved in ethanol.
Con rmatory Tests for Biodiesel:-Transesteri cation
is the most commonly used method for Biodiesel oil pro-
duction from algae. Harvested biomass from these algal
species was dried, ground and oil was extracted by Sox-
hlet extractor using ethanol as a solvent. The extracted
oil was trans esteri ed to biodiesel using sodium meth-
oxide as a catalyst.1ml of extracted algal oil was taken
with 3ml of methanol and 0.075 g of NaOH and it was
shaken vigorously and then kept in a shaker for over-
Bhavana Tandon, Shriya Henry and Ramendra Soni
FIGURE 1. Different sites from where algal samples were collected
FIGURE 2. Steps involved in biodiesel production from algal biomass
FIGURE 3. Algal growth of R3
FIGURE 4. Growth of algal sample in  rst week of
Bhavana Tandon, Shriya Henry and Ramendra Soni
Table 2. List of the species
present in the algal samples
Samples Present species
R-1 Microcystis
R-2 Vaucheria
R-3 Microcystis
R-4 Vaucheria
R-5 Microcystis
FIGURE 5. The remaining extract after Ethanol
evaporation is the desired algal lipid
FIGURE 5. Transester cation
FIGURE 6. Flame Test
night. Two layers were observed the next day in which
the lower layer was glycerol and the upper layer was
biodiesel. The upper layer i.e. biodiesel was extracted for
further experiments.
Ideally, there were two distinct layers: an amber
(ranging from very light to very dark depending on the
oil used) biodiesel layer on top and a darker glycerol
layer on the bottom (usually contaminated with catalyst,
alcohol, or dust particulates). Sometimes, there will be a
third or fourth layer between the glycerol and the bio-
diesel. These layers are soap from too much catalyst or
water and often appear milky or yellowish. The property
of a biodiesel is to be highly  ammable when in con-
tact of  re. So for the  ame test of biodiesel we lit the
matchstick in front of the upper layer of solution which
was taken out by the process of transesteri cation.
Growth rate measurement: The tissue culture bottles
were kept in open area where proper sun-light and aera-
tion was available for the suitable growth of algal sam-
ple as shown in  gure 3 and 4.
In all these above 4 growth medium BBM, Bristol,
BG11 including one control (distilled water) BG11 media
showed maximum algal growth, so it was taken for the
mass culture of algal sample in open ground.
Identi cation: This process was carried out at depart-
ment of biological sciences, SHIATS, Allahabad, using a
compound microscope for analysis of temporary slides
of Algae samples collected from different sites. Different
Algae species were identi ed by observing their unique
reproductive structures. The table 2 shows the results of
identi cation of algae samples showing the type of spe-
cies which constitute every sample.
After the transesteri cation process, a separate layer
of biodiesel was obtained from the extracted algal oil.
The upper layer contained biodiesel which was carefully
extracted with pipette in a separate  ask, and the lower
layer was glycerol so it was discarded.
As Biodiesel has the highly in ammable property, it
caught  re rapidly when a matchstick was passed over
it.In the current study, 5 algae samples were used to
extract oil and it was converted to biodiesel. The study
revealed that algae are fast growing and effective organ-
ism for biodiesel production as these can be grown in
Bhavana Tandon, Shriya Henry and Ramendra Soni
normal water as well as in arti cial media. Oil extracted
from harvested biomass of these algae was trans esteri-
ed to biodiesel using sodium methoxide as a catalyst.
It was found that properties of biodiesel so it can be
blended with fossil fuels or can be used individually as
an alternative of fossil fuels.
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