Enzymatic approach to biodiesel production

Casimir C. Akoh, Shu Wei Chang, Guan Chiun Lee, Jei Fu Shaw*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

319 Citations (Scopus)


The need for alternative energy sources that combine environmental friendliness with biodegradability, low toxicity, renewability, and less dependence on petroleum products has never been greater. One such energy source is referred to as biodiesel. This can be produced from vegetable oils, animal fats, microalgal oils, waste products of vegetable oil refinery or animal rendering, and used frying oils. Chemically, they are known as monoalkyl esters of fatty acids. The conventional method for producing biodiesel involves acid and base catalysts to form fatty acid alkyl esters. Downstream processing costs and environmental problems associated with biodiesel production and byproducts recovery have led to the search for alternative production methods and alternative substrates. Enzymatic reactions involving lipases can be an excellent alternative to produce biodiesel through a process commonly referred to alcoholysis, a form of transesterification reaction, or through an interesterification (ester interchange) reaction. Protein engineering can be useful in improving the catalytic efficiency of lipases as biocatalysts for biodiesel production. The use of recombinant DNA technology to produce large quantities of lipases, and the use of immobilized lipases and immobilized whole cells, may lower the overall cost, while presenting less downstream processing problems, to biodiesel production. In addition, the enzymatic approach is environmentally friendly, considered a "green reaction", and needs to be explored for industrial production of biodiesel.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8995-9005
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry
Issue number22
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Oct 31


  • Alcoholysis
  • Biodiesel
  • Bioenergy
  • Fatty acid alkyl esters
  • Fatty acid methyl esters
  • Immobilized enzymes
  • Interesterification
  • Lipases
  • Protein engineering
  • Recombinant DNA
  • Response surface methodology
  • Transesterifcation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


Dive into the research topics of 'Enzymatic approach to biodiesel production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this