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Abstract

Biodiesel as fatty acid alkylesters has become attractive because of its environmental benefits. A non-edible oil as starting material for biodiesel production appears desirable and does not compromise the edible oils used mainly for food and feed. The present article discusses the enzymatic alcoholysis of crude Jatropha curcas oil in solvent free medium for the production of valuable fatty acid alkyl esters for use as biodiesel. Among various microbial lipases commonly tested in the literature, the highest initial rate (>18 μmol h–1 mg–1) with different alcohols was observed with immobilized lipase from Pseudomonas cepacia, but the activity depends on the amount of water. The best conversion (93%) to produce ethyl esters was achieved with lipase immobilized on the polypropylene carrier Accurel 1282 after 16 h at low enzyme concentration (3% w/w). Moreover, the transesterification could be conducted for at least 160 h during 10 batch runs without significant loss of activity. This reduces the costs for immobilized lipase and can thus make the enzymatic biodiesel production commercially more viable, especially starting from a non-edible plant oil.