Microwave assisted extraction of biodiesel feedstock from the seeds of invasive chinese tallow tree

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Chinese tallow tree (TT) seeds are a rich source of lipids and have the potential to be a biodiesel feedstock, but currently, its invasive nature does not favor large scale cultivation. Being a nonfood material, they have many advantages over conventional crops that are used for biodiesel production. The purpose of this study was to determine optimal oil extraction parameters in a batch-type and laboratory scale continuous-flow microwave system to obtain maximum oil recovery from whole TT seeds using ethanol as the extracting solvent. For the batch system, extractions were carried out for different time-temperature combinations ranging from 60 to 120 degrees C for up to 20 min. The batch system was modified for continuous extractions, which were carried out at 50, 60, and 73 degrees C and maintained for various residence times of up to 20 min. Control runs were performed under similar extraction conditions and the results compared well, especially when accounting for extremely short extraction times (minutes vs hours). Maximum yields of 35.32% and 32.51% (by weight of dry mass) were obtained for the continuous and batch process, respectively. The major advantage of microwave assisted solvent extraction is the reduced time of extraction required to obtain total recoverable lipids, with corresponding reduction in energy consumption costs per unit of lipid extracted. This study indicates that microwave extraction using ethanol as a solvent can be used as a viable alternative to conventional lipid extraction techniques for TT seeds.

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Environmental science & technology

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