Fungi Produced Biofuels

This is a promising idea worth paying some attention to.  We can imagine cellulose feedstock been steadily converted into production oils that can be continuously skimmed for immediate use as a fuel with modest additional processing.

We can imagine this been done at the farm gate level as a convenient biowaste management system.  A valuable product is available for the farm economy and for resale.

Equipment should be a simple vat with a clever way to draw off the oil as often as needed.  Recharging should be straight forward and naturally continuous.  The trick is to establish productivity.  Yet this is a promising beginning.

Fungus Among Us Could Become Non-Food Source For Biodiesel Production

by Staff Writers

Murcia, Spain (SPX) Jun 11, 2010

In the quest for alternatives to soybeans, palm, and other edible oilseed plants as sources for biodiesel production, enter an unlikely new candidate: A fungus, or mold, that produces and socks away large amounts of oils that are suitable for low-cost, eco-friendly biodiesel. That's the topic of a study in ACS' bi-monthly journal Energy and Fuels.

Victoriano Garre and colleagues point out that manufacturers usually produce biodiesel fuel from plant oils - such as rapeseed, palm, and soy. However, expanded production from those sources could foster shortages that mean rising food prices.

In addition, oilseeds require scare farmland, and costly fertilizers and pesticides. To meet growing demand for biodiesel fuel, scientists are looking for oil sources other than plants. Microorganisms such as fungi, which take little space to grow, are ideal candidates. But scientists first must find fungi that produce larger amounts of oil.

In the study, scientists describe a process for converting oil from an abundant producer called Mucor circinelloides into biodiesel without even extracting oil from the growth cultures. The resulting fungus-based biodiesel meets commercial specifications in the United States and Europe and production could be scaled to commercial levels, they note.

Direct Transformation of Fungal Biomass from Submerged Cultures into Biodiesel
Gemma Vicente†, L. Fernando Bautista†, Francisco J. Gutirrez†, Rosala Rodrguez†, Virginia Martnez†, Rosa A. Rodrguez-Frmeta‡, Rosa M. Ruiz-Vzquez‡, Santiago Torres-Martnez‡ and Victoriano Garre*

 Department of Chemical and Environmental Technology, ESCET, Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, C/Tulipn s/n, 28933 Mstoles, Madrid, Spain

 Departamento de Gentica y Microbiologa (Unidad Asociada al IQFR−CSIC), Facultad de Biologa, Universidad de Murcia, 30071 Murcia, Spain

Energy Fuels201024 (5), pp 3173–3178  DOI: 10.1021/ef9015872
Publication Date (Web): April 2, 2010

Copyright © 2010 American Chemical Society

*To whom correspondence should be addressed: Departamento de Gentica y Microbiologa, Facultad de Biologa, Universidad de Murcia, 30071 Murcia, Spain. Telephone: +34-868887148. Fax: +34-868883963.


Diminishing fossil fuel reserves and the increase in their consumption indicate that strategies need to be developed to produce biofuels from renewable resources. Biodiesel offers advantages over other petroleum-derived fuel substitutes, because it is comparatively environmentally friendly and an excellent fuel for existing diesel engines. Biodiesel, which consists of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs), is usually obtained from plant oils. However, its extensive production from oil crops is not sustainable because of the impact this would have on food supply and the environment. Microbial oils are postulated as an alternative to plant oils, but not all oleaginous microorganisms have ideal lipid profiles for biodiesel production. On the other hand, lipid profiles could be modified by genetic engineering in some oleaginous microorganisms, such as the fungus Mucor circinelloides, which has powerful genetic tools. We show here that the biomass from submerged cultures of the oleaginous fungus M. circinelloides can be used to produce biodiesel by acid-catalyzed direct transformation, without previous extraction of the lipids. Direct transformation, which should mean a cost savings for biodiesel production, increased lipid extraction and demonstrated that structural lipids, in addition to energy storage lipids, can be transformed into FAMEs. Moreover, the analyzed properties of the M. circinelloides-derived biodiesel using three different catalysts (BF3, H2SO4, and HCl) fulfilled the specifications established by the American standards and most of the European standard specifications.

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