Microalgae harvesting by magnetic flocculation for biodiesel production: current status and potential

World J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2020 Jul 7;36(7):105. doi: 10.1007/s11274-020-02884-5.


With the increasing demand for energy, microalgae, as one of the promising feedstocks of biodiesel, has raised great awareness. Because of its small size, similar density to water and electrical stability, harvesting methods of microalgae that have low energy consumption and that are highly efficient, easy to large-scale and environmentally friendly have become a bottleneck restricting development of the whole process. Among the numerous possible harvesting methods, magnetic flocculation has the advantages of simple operation, fast separation and energy saving and thus is considered as a promising novel harvesting method. In this review, we have summarized the updated status and application potential of magnetic flocculation, including the principle of magnetic flocculation, magnetic flocculating materials, flocculating efficiency and its effect on downstream process. The major challenges such as magnetic materials recovery, large-scale magnetic flocculation device design, and magnetic flocculation costs are also discussed.

Keywords: Biodiesel; Flocculation; Harvesting; Magnetic nanoparticles; Microalgae.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels*
  • Biomass
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Flocculation
  • Magnetic Phenomena*
  • Microalgae* / growth & development
  • Microalgae* / metabolism
  • Water


  • Biofuels
  • Water