Optimization of a novel lipid extraction process from microalgae

Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 12;11(1):20221. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-99356-z.


Previous study found that the solvent extraction efficiency of lipid in microalgae could be greatly improved by washing algae cells before the second time extraction. Based on the "organic solvents-water-organic solvents" method, this research further studied the effect of four solvent systems (acetone, chloroform/methanol, chloroform/methanol/water, dichloromethane/methanol), two types of water treatment (vortex and ultrasonic), three water treatment time gradient (0 s, 30 s, 120 s) on the lipid extraction at three different microalgae growth stages (3rd day, 5th day, 9th day). The results show that the combination of water treatment type, treatment time and solvent is very important to the efficiency of lipid extraction. The total lipid extracted was generally increased by 10-30% after water treatment. Especially under the condition of 120 s vortex water treatment with dichloromethane/methanol as extraction solvent, the total lipid extracted increased by 61.14%. In addition, microalgae cells at different culture stages had different sensitivity to water treatment. In this study, under the combination of chloroform/methanol/water as extraction solvent and vortex water treatment for 120 s, the highest lipid yield was obtained on the ninth day of cell culture, which accounts 47.88% of the cell dry weight (478 mg/g cell dry weight). The changes of cell morphology and structure after water treatment were studied by scanning electron microscope, and it was found that water treatment could seriously destroy the cell membrane damaged by solvent, thus promoting the release of lipids. This study further optimizes the "solvent-water-solvent" lipid extraction method, which neither produces impurities nor damages the lipid quality, and can reduce the amount of organic solvent applied in the classical lipid extraction method with the same lipid yield, so it has a broad application prospect.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't