Triflate-catalyzed (trans)esterification of fatty acids, triglycerides, and lipids within carbonized algal biomass

Robert B. Levine, Matthew D. Durham, Phillip E. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The production of biodiesel from microalgae is complicated by the energy and cost associated with biomass harvesting, dewatering, and oil separation. We previously reported on a two-step method to produce biodiesel from wet algal biomass through hydrothermal carbonization and in situ supercritical ethanol (trans)esterification. Here we demonstrate the use of rare-earth metal triflates (Sc(OTf) 3 and In(OTf) 3) to catalyze the conversion of fatty acids (FAs) and glycerides in both model systems and carbonized algal solids to ethyl esters. High yields (>90%) were obtained at moderate temperatures (190-235 °C), in short times (5-30 min), and with industrially relevant amounts of ethanol (10:1-15:1 molar ratio EtOH:FA), catalyst (1 mol% to FA), and water (2-10 wt%).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalACS National Meeting Book of Abstracts
StatePublished - 2011
Event242nd ACS National Meeting and Exposition - Denver, CO, United States
Duration: Aug 28 2011Sep 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering


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