Most of the biodiesel produced today comes from the combustion of vegetable oils from different sources or from oil waste produced by some industries. The problem of the former is the need for large areas of cultivation . For this reason, new raw materials are being investigated to replace conventional oils in the production of sustainable energy. This is the case of oleaginous microorganisms, which can also be a source for the production of biodiesel. Microorganisms for the production of biodiesel
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Oleaginous microorganisms are those that accumulate more than 20% lipids. In most cases, the oil that can be extracted from them is in the form of triglycerides , just like in vegetable oils and animal fats. Therefore, lipids from microorganisms could be used in the biodiesel production process in industry.
The main oleaginous microorganisms are microalgae, bacteria, fungi and yeasts. Most of the current research studies the feasibility of the use of microalgae, which use carbon dioxide and sunlight for the production of lipids and have higher production yields and growth rates than traditional vegetable oil crops. The main disadvantage is the need for light and large areas of land. Microorganisms for the production of biodiesel
But other forms of biodiesel production using fungi , bacteria or yeast are being investigated . The advantage, compared to microalgae, is that its growth can be carried out in conventional biomass plants, which would reduce production costs. In addition, a wide range of raw materials can be used as a carbon source during their growth and can be genetically manipulated to improve or optimize lipid accumulation. Microorganisms for the production of biodiesel
The Department of Chemical and Energy Technology of the Rey Juan Carlos University and the Department of Genetics and Microbiology of the University of Murcia have been exploring this alternative for five years , which has allowed the development of high-quality biodiesel in a single step, carrying out the direct transformation of the lipids of a type of fungus called Mucor circinelloides. The biodiesel produced is 99% pure. In the future, by genetically manipulating this fungus, it will be possible to generate microorganisms with higher amounts of lipids and that grow on agricultural or industrial waste.