Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering, Vol.91, No.1, 12-15, 2001
Effect of methanol and water contents on production of biodiesel fuel from plant oil catalyzed by various lipases in a solvent-free system
Methyl esters synthesized from plant oil and methanol by the methanolysis reaction are potentially important as a biodiesel fuel. The methanolysis of soybean oil by lipases from various microorganisms was investigated. Several of the lipases were found to catalyze methanolysis in a water-containing system without an organic solvent. The lipases from Candida rugosa, Pseudomonas cepacia, and Pseudomonas fluorescens displayed particularly high catalytic ability. The reaction rates of methanolysis catalyzed by the C. rugosa and P, fluorescens lipases decreased significantly when the water content was low, showing that water prevents the inactivation of these lipases by methanol, On the other hand, the methanolysis reaction rate catalyzed by the P, cepacia lipase remained high even under a low water content. In addition, the P, cepacia lipase gave high methyl ester contents in the reaction mixture up to 2 or 3 molar equivalents of methanol to oil, which is attributed to the P. cepacia lipase having substantial methanol resistance. For the same methanol content, the reaction rates of methanolysis catalyzed by the P. cepacia lipase increased with decreasing water content, and hence lipases strongly resistant to high methanol, such as that from P, cepacia, are desirable for use in methanolysis reaction processes.