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Eco-friendly bio-fuel from algae

A team of scientists at the Fisheries College and Research Institute (FCRI) at Tuticorin has successfully extracted bio-fuel from marine micro algae.

The extraction of bio-fuel by standardising the research procedure from marine micro algae was a major breakthrough and the FCRI planned to develop an industrial model for mass production of the bio-fuel from marine micro algae.

The marine micro algae, isolated from sea water, was first cultivated under autotrophic and heterotrophic culture systems using transestrification method, a process of conversion of an organic “acidester” into another “ester” of the same acid. The method involved catalysed chemical reaction on micro algal oil.

In autotrophic system, the algae were grown in a standardised culture medium. The mass culture was achieved by transferring algal broth culture to larger tanks. Under heterotrophic conditions, mass culture algae was performed in a bioreactor of 3.1 litre capacity under controlled state to achieve high lipid accumulation.

Micro algal cells harvested from culture solution were pulverised and bio-lipid oil was extracted with suitable solvents. A standard reaction mixture consisting oil and methanol concentrate was then heated for a specific period and transferred to a tailor-made funnel where the bio-fuel was separated, the institute Dean V K Venkataramani said.

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