Biodiesel production: Utilization of loofah sponge to immobilize Rhizopus chinensis CGMCC #3.0232 cells as a whole-cell biocatalyst

Qiyang He, Qianjun Xia, Yuejiao Wang, Xun Li, Yu Zhang, Bo Hu, Fei Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Rhizopus chinensis cells immobilized on loofah (Luffa cylindrica) sponges were used to produce biodiesel via the transesterification of soybean oil. In whole-cell immobilization, loofah sponge is considered to be a superior alternative to conventional biomass carriers because of its biodegradable and renewable properties. During cell cultivation, Rhizopus chinensis mycelia can spontaneously and firmly adhere to the surface of loofah sponge particles. The optimal conditions for processing 9.65 g soybean oil at 40°C and 180 rpm using a 3:1 methanol-to-oil molar ratio were found to be 8% cell addition and 3-10% water content (depending on the oil’s weight). Under optimal conditions, an over 90% methyl ester yield was achieved after the first reaction batch. The operational stability of immobilized Rhizopus chinensis cells was assayed utilizing a 1:1 methanol-to-oil molar ratio, thus resulting in a 16.5-fold increase in half-life when compared with immobilized cells of the widely studied Rhizopus oryzae. These results suggest that transesterification of vegetable oil using Rhizopus chinensis whole cells immobilized onto loofah sponge is an effective approach for biodiesel production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1278-1284
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Priority Academic Program Development of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions (PAPD) and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31170537, 31370572).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by The Korean Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology.


  • Biodiesel
  • Loofah sponge
  • Rhizopus chinensis
  • Transesterification
  • Whole cell


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