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Review
, 85 (6), 1713-33

Fatty Acid Alkyl Esters: Perspectives for Production of Alternative Biofuels

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Review

Fatty Acid Alkyl Esters: Perspectives for Production of Alternative Biofuels

Annika Röttig et al. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol.

Abstract

The global economy heads for a severe energy crisis: whereas the energy demand is going to rise, easily accessible sources of crude oil are expected to be depleted in only 10-20 years. Since a serious decline of oil supply and an associated collapse of the economy might be reality very soon, alternative energies and also biofuels that replace fossil fuels must be established. In addition, these alternatives should not further impair the environment and climate. About 90% of the biofuel market is currently captured by bioethanol and biodiesel. Biodiesel is composed of fatty acid alkyl esters (FAAE) and can be synthesized by chemical, enzymatic, or in vivo catalysis mainly from renewable resources. Biodiesel is already established as it is compatible with the existing fuel infrastructure, non-toxic, and has superior combustion characteristics than fossil diesel; and in 2008, the global production was 12.2 million tons. The biotechnological production of FAAE from low cost and abundant feedstocks like biomass will enable an appreciable substitution of petroleum diesel. To overcome high costs for immobilized enzymes, the in vivo synthesis of FAAE using bacteria represents a promising approach. This article points to the potential of different FAAE as alternative biofuels, e.g., by comparing their fuel properties. In addition to conventional production processes, this review presents natural and genetically engineered biological systems capable of in vivo FAAE synthesis.

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