Polyunsaturated fatty acids are well known for their protective properties in relation to different skin diseases. Although seaweeds possess a low lipid fraction, they could act as an alternative renewable source of polyunsaturated fatty acids whenever other valuable seaweed components are also valorized. In this study, a biorefinery process using Mastocarpus stellatus as a model seaweed was proposed. The process started with the supercritical carbon dioxide extraction of the lipid and phenolic fractions. The influence of pressure during extraction with pure supercritical CO2 was studied while operating at a selected temperature and solvent flow rate. Kinetic data obtained during the ethanol-modified supercritical CO2 extraction were fitted to the spline model. Sequential processing was proposed with (i) pure CO2 to obtain a product with 30% PUFA content and ω-3:ω-6 ratio 1:1, (ii) ethanol-modified CO2 to extract phenolics, and (iii) microwave-assisted subcritical water extraction operating under previously optimized conditions for the extraction of phenolics, carrageenan and protein fractions. The composition of the supercritical extracts showed potential for use in both dietary and topical applications in skin care products. The remaining solids are suitable for the extraction of other valuable fractions.
Keywords: Mastocarpus stellatus; antioxidants; microwave heating; omega 3; subcritical water; supercritical CO2.