Subcritical Water Treatment for Valorization of the Red Algae Residue after Agar Extraction: Scale-Up from Laboratory to Pilot Plant

Ind Eng Chem Res. 2023 Feb 16;62(8):3503-3514. doi: 10.1021/acs.iecr.2c04132. eCollection 2023 Mar 1.


The feasibility of industrial subcritical water treatment on Gelidium sesquipedale residue through scaling up from the lab to pilot system in discontinuous mode (geometric scale-up factor = 50), at 130 and 175 °C (5% biomass), was investigated. The maximum volumes of the reactors were 500 mL at the lab-scale and 5 L at the pilot-scale system. At 175 °C, faster extraction/hydrolysis was observed for the pilot plant, but maximum yields were similar: 71.4 and 78.6% for galactans, 9.8 and 10.4% for glucans, and 92.7 and 86.1% for arabinans in pilot scale and lab scale, respectively, while the yields for proteins accounted nearly 40%. The highest yields for amino acids were observed for the smallest ones, while lower yields were determined for polar amino acids. The total phenolic content and color intensity progressively increased along time at lab scale, while a plateau was reached at the pilot level. Lower extraction yields but reproducible results were obtained at 130 °C. Finally, the pilot scale was essayed at a higher biomass loading (15%), and successful results were obtained, supporting the feasibility of the scaling-up process.