It is known that the wide consumption of fossil fuels implies in many problems, such as the significant environmental impact, associated to the fact that the known reserves of these fuels are limited. In this context, the development of alternative energy sources has been stimulated worldwide. Among them, we highlight biodiesel and drop-in biofuels (such as biokerosene and green diesel), which can be obtained from vegetable oils. These biofuels present many environmental advantages: they are renewable and non-toxic. To overcome the disadvantages of the conventional production routes of these biofuels, enzymatic processes using lipases have been developed. The enzymatic catalysts are highly selective and can act at lower temperatures and normal pressure conditions. Thus, the bioprocesses show lower energy consumption and the formation of pure products in higher yields, since undesirable side-reactions do not occur. In lipase-catalyzed processes, low-quality raw materials (with high free fatty acids and water contents) can be used, because some lipases can convert free fatty acid (FFA) to esters by esterification, as well as convert triglycerides to esters by transesterification. Despite the fact that some enzymatic processes for biodiesel production are already implemented at industrial scale and the number of pilot and industrial scale plants has greatly increased in the recent years, it is known that the main challenge of using lipases is the high cost of the enzymes, since they are imported. In this way, the scientific community has carried out intense researches in this subject, in order to develop improvements in the enzymatic technology, aiming to increase the productivity of the bioprocesses and reduce their costs. The development and production of heterologous lipases with high activity and operational stability, using the crude glycerol obtained in the process,as carbon source, is a way to minimize the cost of the enzymatic routes for biofuels production. In this context, this post-doctorate project proposes laboratory scale synthesis and application of potential lipases for the production of biodiesel and biohydrocarbons (precursors of biokerosene and green diesel), and a technical-economic-environmental simulation of the production of these components via enzymatic route. For this, a previously selected new lipase will be produced using strains of E. coli, purified and evaluated in the reactions of transesterification and hydrolysis of vegetable oils. The material obtained in the hydrolysis reaction will undergo a decarboxylation process, using the enzyme OleTJE, to produce biohydrocarbons. The enzyme OleTJE is the best enzyme reported in the literature, since it catalyzes predominantly the decarboxylation of long chain free fatty acids. In this sense, this project will be pioneer in the study of the production of biohydrocarbons via the enzymatic route using hydrolysis step followed by decarboxylation. Finally, a technical-economic-environmental assessment of the production process of these products will be made, using glycerol and other compounds as the source of carbon for the production of the enzyme.
Articles published in Pesquisa para Inovação FAPESP about the scholarships: