Application of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production from microalgal oil—a review

Mohammed O. Faruque, Shaikh A. Razzak, Mohammad M. Hossain*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


The depletion of fossil fuel reserves and increased environmental concerns related to fossil fuel production and combustion has forced the global communities to search for renewable fuels. In this regard, microalgae-based biodiesel has been considered as one of the interesting alternatives. Biodiesel production from the cultivation of microalgae is eco-friendly and sustainable. Moreover, microalgae have several advantages over other bioenergy sources, including their good photosynthetic capacity and faster growth rates. The productivity of microalgae per unit land area is also significantly higher than that of terrestrial plants. The produced microalgae biomass is rich with high quality lipids, which can be converted into biodiesel by transesterification reactions. Generally, the transesterification reactions are carried out in the presence of a homogeneous or heterogeneous catalyst. The homogeneous catalysts have many disadvantages, including their single use, slow reaction rate and saponification issues due to the presence of fatty acids in the feedstock. The acidic nature of the homogeneous catalysts also causes equipment corrosion. On the other hand, the heterogeneous catalysts offer several advantages, including their reusability, higher reaction rate and selectivity, easy product/catalyst separation and low cost. Due to these facts, the development of solid phase transesterification catalysts have been receiving growing interest. The present review is focused on the use of heterogeneous catalysts for biodiesel production from microalgal oil as a reliable feedstock with a comparison to other available feedstocks. It also highlights optimal reaction conditions for maximum biodiesel yields, reusability of the solid catalysts, cost, and environmental impact. The superior lipid content of microalgae and the efficient concurrent esterification and transesterification of the solid acid−base catalysts can offer new advancements in biodiesel production.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1025
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the Deanship of Scientific Research (DSR) at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) through project No. IN161022. Acknowledgments: The authors would like to acknowledge the support provided by the Deanship of Scientific Research (DSR) at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals (KFUPM) for funding this work through project no. IN161022.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Acid−base catalysts
  • Biodiesel
  • Heterogeneous catalysts
  • Microalgal oil
  • Transesterification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science (all)
  • Catalysis
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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