Microalgal species selection for biodiesel production based on fuel properties derived from fatty acid profiles

Md Aminul Islam, Marie E. Magnusson, Richard J. Brown, G. A. Ayoko, Md Nurun Nabi, Kirsten Ruth Heimann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

240 Citations (Scopus)


Physical and chemical properties of biodiesel are influenced by structural features of the fatty acids, such as chain length, degree of unsaturation and branching of the carbon chain. This study investigated if microalgal fatty acid profiles are suitable for biodiesel characterization and species selection through Preference Ranking Organisation Method for Enrichment Evaluation (PROMETHEE) and Graphical Analysis for Interactive Assistance (GAIA) analysis. Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profiles were used to calculate the likely key chemical and physical properties of the biodiesel [cetane number (CN), iodine value (IV), cold filter plugging point, density, kinematic viscosity, higher heating value] of nine microalgal species (this study) and twelve species from the literature, selected for their suitability for cultivation in subtropical climates. An equal-parameter weighted (PROMETHEE-GAIA) ranked Nannochloropsis oculata, Extubocellulus sp. and Biddulphia sp. highest; the only species meeting the EN14214 and ASTM D6751-02 biodiesel standards, except for the double bond limit in the EN14214. Chlorella vulgaris outranked N. oculata when the twelve microalgae were included. Culture growth phase (stationary) and, to a lesser extent, nutrient provision affected CN and IV values of N. oculata due to lower eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) contents. Application of a polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) weighting to saturation led to a lower ranking of species exceeding the double bond EN14214 thresholds. In summary, CN, IV, C18:3 and double bond limits were the strongest drivers in equal biodiesel parameter-weighted PROMETHEE analysis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5676-5702
Number of pages27
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


  • Biofuel properties
  • Cetane number
  • Cold filter plugging point
  • Kinematic viscosity
  • Nannochloropsis oculata
  • Preference Ranking Organisation Method for Enrichment Evaluation-Graphical Analysis for Interactive Assistance


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