Esterification using a liquid lipase to remove residual free fatty acids in biodiesel

R. B. Hansen, M. A. Agerbaek, P. M. Nielsen, A. Rancke-Madsen, J. M. Woodley

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Lately, the price of liquid formulated lipase enzymes, usable in biodiesel production, has been significantly reduced. This enables one-time use of these enzymes for transesterification, and the process is used industrially. However, the process suffers a drawback by leaving 2−3 % free fatty acids in the crude biodiesel, which reduces the profitability. This article discusses a novel enzymatic FFA esterification reaction utilizing liquid lipase B from Candida antarctica (CALB) along with glycerol at low water concentrations to eliminate the residual FFA. The reaction setup was found able to reduce the free fatty acid concentration to within biodiesel specifications of < 0.25 wt.% FFA. Additionally, two alternative process setups are proposed, which were both found viable through a combination of experiments and simulations, and can be developed into full-scale processes. The resulting two-step enzymatic biodiesel process - transesterification followed by esterification - provides a potential process layout for the industrial production of biodiesel.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProcess Biochemistry
Pages (from-to)213-221
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Biodiesel
  • Candida antarctica lipase B
  • Drying process
  • Esterification
  • FAME
  • High yield
  • Lipase


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