Elucidating supercritical fluid extraction of fucoxanthin from algae to enable the integrated biorefinery

Bioresour Technol. 2024 Jun 24:406:131036. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2024.131036. Online ahead of print.


The emerging nutraceutical, fucoxanthin, shows promise as a high-value product to enable the integrated biorefinery. Fucoxanthin can be extracted from algae through supercritical fluid extraction (SFE), but literature does not agree on optimal extraction conditions. Here, a statistical analysis of literature identifies supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) density, ethanol cosolvent amount, and polarity as significant predictors of fucoxanthin yield. Novel SFE experiments are then performed using a fucoxanthin standard, describing its fundamental solubility. These experiments establish solvent system polarity as the key knob to tune fucoxanthin recovery from 0% to 100% and give specific operating conditions for targeted fucoxanthin extraction.Further experiments compare extractions on fucoxanthin standard with extractions from Phaeodactylum tricornutum microalgae to elucidate the effect of the algae matrix. Results show selectivity of fucoxanthin over chlorophyll in scCO2 microalgae extractions that was not seen in extractions with ethanol, indicating a benefit of scCO2 to design selective extraction schemes.

Keywords: Carotenoid; Green solvent; Nutraceutical; Supercritical carbon dioxide; Xanthophyll.