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Enzyme Research
Volume 2011, Article ID 618692, 8 pages
Research Article

Study of Soybean Oil Hydrolysis Catalyzed by Thermomyces lanuginosus Lipase and Its Application to Biodiesel Production via Hydroesterification

1Laboratório de Biotecnologia Microbiana (LaBiM), Centro de Tecnologia, Instituto de Química, lab. 549-1, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CEP 21945-970, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
2Laboratório de Tecnologia Verde (GreenTec), Centro de Tecnologia, Escola de Química, lab. 211, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, CP. 68542, CEP 21945-970 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

Received 20 July 2010; Revised 21 September 2010; Accepted 5 October 2010

Academic Editor: Sulaiman Al-Zuhair

Copyright © 2011 Elisa d'Avila Cavalcanti-Oliveira et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The process of biodiesel production by the hydroesterification route that is proposed here involves a first step consisting of triacylglyceride hydrolysis catalyzed by lipase from Thermomyces lanuginosus (TL 100L) to generate free fatty acids (FFAs). This step is followed by esterification of the FFAs with alcohol, catalyzed by niobic acid in pellets or without a catalyst. The best result for the enzyme-catalyzed hydrolysis was obtained under reaction conditions of 50% (v/v) soybean oil and 2.3% (v/v) lipase (25 U/mL of reaction medium) in distilled water and at 60C; an 89% conversion rate to FFAs was obtained after 48 hours of reaction. For the esterification reaction, the best result was with an FFA/methanol molar ratio of 1:3, niobic acid catalyst at a concentration of 20% (w/w FFA), and 200C, which yielded 92% conversion of FFAs to soy methyl esters after 1 hour of reaction. This study is exceptional because both the hydrolysis and the esterification use a simple reaction medium with high substrate concentrations.