Development of integrated biorefinery technology

Lolke Sijtsma, WP3 Leader, Wageningen UR - Food & Biobased Research

WP3 aims to employ mild disruption, green extraction and fractionation/purification technologies to produce multiple specialties from algae biomass by valorising all biomass components (Fig 1). The work to date has focused on (i) (bio)chemical characterization of algae, (ii) knowledge development for mild cell disruption technologies (physical, chemical, enzymatic) and (iii) RTD on green extraction procedures.


Fig.1 - Process steps in the algae biorefinery

Currently, the biomass composition of four algal strains (Isochrysis galbana, Nannochloropsis gaditana, Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Scenedesmus obliquus) has been fully characterized.

For cell disruption, mechanical methods such as homogenization, beadbeating and calander treatment were tested and compared by measuring the release of soluble protein. Enzymes as well as chemical pre-treatment may positively contribute to disruption efficiency. A sequential (4-step) refining extraction procedure, combining Supercritical Fluid Extraction (SFE) and Pressurized Liquid Extraction (PLE) is under development for the production of specialties from I. galbana and an integrated refining procedure is being tested for S. obliquus. Furthermore, work was started on the use of supercritical CO2 for extraction of algae oils and use of membranes for separating water soluble algae components.


Fig. 2 - Extracts from Isochrysis galbana. 

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