Solid Phase Lipid Extraction of Algal Oil
Extraction and distillation of oil from algae can be as much as 40% of the total production cost of algal oil potentially rendering it uneconomical as a feedstock for biofuels. Significant contributors to these high cost and energy requirements of extraction and distillation are the very dilute nature of algal cultures, small algal cell sizes, and tough algal cell walls. For extraction, this usually mandates some type of pre-concentration (a.k.a. dewatering or harvesting), aggressive lysing methods, and high ratios of aggressive solvents. This, in turn, requires expensive equipment and a large amount of energy and distillation. Altogether, traditional extraction/distillation methods are not cost effective necessitating the implementation of innovative approaches to produce algal oil at mainland market competitive prices. This proposal develops a method for economical algal oil extraction based on a solid phase lipid extraction using oil absorbing glass. This glass matrix could be used to either directly absorb oil from lysed cells or differentially absorb the oil from emulsions formed between solvent / water / lipid post liquid / liquid extraction. Direct absorption from algal cells could eliminate or mitigate solvent use in the extraction method. The differential extraction of algal lipids from emulsions could eliminate or mitigate separation major problem in liquid/liquid extractions where emulsions of algal oil with solvent and water often form. The objective at the end of Phase II is the development of optimized extraction methods and associated equipment based on the use of an optimized absorbent glass matrix for algal oil extraction in a prototype deployed in our integrated algal biorefinery pilot plant. Commercial Applications & Other Benefits: If successful, this research project will be developed into a turn-key extraction device for use by other algae companies, not just Phycal, to stimulate the entire algal biofuel industry. Economical production of algal oil has major benefits for U.S. energy, environmental, and job security. If this approach could reduce the overall cost associated with extraction and potentially distillation of algal oils it would have a major impact on the economics of algal oil as a feedstock for energy products.
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51 Alpha Park Highland Heights, OH 44143
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