A fractionation strategy for Saccharina latissima algal biomass was developed utilizing chelating extraction salt solutions to mediate the liberation of algal components. Alginate, cellulose, laminarin, mannitol, protein, and inorganic salts were quantified in the fractions to reveal their individual dissolution patterns. Chelation power was identified as a key parameter for liberating alginate and increasing the yield of extracted components. The most efficient fractionation was achieved using aqueous sodium citrate as the extraction solution, producing an alginate-rich soluble fraction and a salt-poor insoluble fraction rich in cellulose and protein. Extractions at decreased pH were shown to be beneficial because they decreased the M/G ratio of the extracted alginate and concentrated the protein in the insoluble fraction from which it can easily be recovered; these effects could be achieved by switching the traditional sodium carbonate extraction solution with salts that have chelation capacity at lower pH. A cyclic extraction demonstrated that the sodium citrate solution can be reused for multiple alginate extractions with the buildup of the concentrations of other valuable components in the solution.
Keywords: Alginate; Chelation; Extraction; Fractionation; Kelp; Saccharina latissima.