Fungi Make Biodiesel Efficiently at Room Temperature

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

Fungi Make Biodiesel Efficiently at Room Temperature:

Typically, biodiesel is made by mixing methanol with lye and vegetable oil and then heating the brew for several hours. This links the methanol to the oils to produce energetic called esters. Unfortunately, heating the mixture is a huge waste of energy, and a major selling point of alternative fuels is efficiency. An enzyme called lipase can link oil to methanol without any extra heating, but the pure protein is expensive.

Potumarthi [of the Indian Institute of Chemical Technology] has a simple solution. Why bother purifying the lipase? It would be easier to just find an organism that produces plenty of the enzyme and squish it into pellets. In this case, the fungus Metarhizium anisopliae does the trick.

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