To develop greener extraction alternatives for microalgae biomass, ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE) and pressurized liquid extraction (PLE) with different biobased solvents were investigated, demonstrating that both techniques are useful alternatives for algal lipid extraction. Specifically, Nannochloropsis gaditana lipids were extracted by UAE and PLE at different temperatures and extraction times with sustainable solvents like 2-Methyltetrahydrofuran (2-MeTHF) and its mixtures with ethanol and other alcohols. The best oil yields for both PLE and UAE of N. gaditana were achieved with the mixture of 2-MeTHF:ethanol (1:3), reaching yields of up to 16.3%, for UAE at 50 °C and up to 46.1% for PLE at 120 °C. Lipid composition of the extracts was analyzed by HPLC-ELSD and by GC-MS to determine lipid species and fatty acid profile, respectively. Different fractionation of lipid species was achieved with PLE and solvent mixtures of different polarity. Thus, for the extraction of glycolipids, ethanolic extracts contained higher amounts of glycolipids and EPA, probably due to the higher polarity of the solvent. The optimized method was applied to microalgae Isochrysis galbana and Tetraselmis chuii showing the potential of mixtures of biobased solvents like 2-methyl-THF and ethanol in different proportions to efficiently extract and fractionate lipids from microalgal biomass.
Keywords: Isochrysis; Nannochloropsis; Tetraselmis; alternative green extraction; glycolipids; microalgae; omega-3 PUFA; pressurized liquid extraction; renewable solvents; ultrasound assisted extraction.