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Optimization of harvesting, cell disruption and extraction processes Featured

While improving cultivation techniques by fundamental research and translating it to outdoors conditions in different locations, FUEL4ME project aims at developing and integrating a downstream process for conversion of microalgae biomass into biofuels. With this purpose, activities on the optimization of the harvesting, cell disruption and extraction processes.

Evodos first centrifuge prototype was successfully demonstrated at Fotosintetica & Microbiologica in Italy, obtaining a paste containing 26% solids for Nannochloropsis and 22% for Phaeodactylum. A second Evodos larger centrifuge prototype will be placed in the pilot plant at Biotopic to demonstrate the re-use of the effluent water for microalgae cultivation.

Lipids from Nannochloropsiswere successfully extracted by using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2). A characterization of the biomass lipid showed that a maximum yield of 46% is possible with a triacylglycerol rich biomass. We succeeded in upgrading transesterified oil using scCO2 fractionation to isolate C16 from eicosapentaenoic ethyl esters.

Next step will be to obtain a higher extraction yield. This could be achieved by using biomass with high TAG content and by studying the effect of cracking cells by the supersonic flow fluid technology prior to extraction. The cell cracking technology is developed by Cellulac. Then low and high value lipids will be separated by scCO2 fractionation. The low value lipids will be converted into biofuels with NesteOil technology.

The spent biomass after extraction will be characterized and this information will be used for a further step of producing hydrogen from the sugars present in the spent biomass