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Urgent:Algal Oil Extraction..suggestions

About microscopic forms of life, including Bacteria, Archea, protozoans, algae and fungi. Topics relating to viruses, viroids and prions also belong here.

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Urgent:Algal Oil Extraction..suggestions

Postby vij1988 » Fri Jul 17, 2009 2:28 am

this is my first post to this forum and I am really amazed to see a whole world of biology related queries being solved here. I really appreciate the work of this forum.

Well, I am working these days on the biofuel process design. FOr the purpose, I am these days employed into growing algae (chlroella minutissima and chlamydomonas reinhardii) under their required conditions. Well, the growth of chlorella is superb and I am able to convert 50 mL of chlorella into 60L of the culture.

But this is not the main purpose of this project. The main purpose is the algal oil extraction. Both these algae are said to have like 20-25% of lipids in it. I would be extracting that using soxhlet apparatus. But I am stuck at a very basic step. All the algae is in suspended state as I am pumping air in it and chlrolla minutissima is very minute is size (that is why it is known as minutissima). so, main problem is how to take out dry algae from the culture and then extract oil from it.
I tried centrifuging it but the max. vol. that can be centrifuged once is just 50 mL. secondly I dewatered the culture by just keeping it in oven at 180 degrees celsius and it still took like 40 minutes to achieve it. Can u suggest any ways to how to obtain dry algae from the culture.
Is oven heating at 180 degrees celsuis fine or will it harm the lipid content inside the algae. Also, I am unaware of the oil vapourizing point. The whole concern is how i should perform this step without loosing any oil. I have to start the extraction on monday so need ugrent help

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Postby canalon » Fri Jul 17, 2009 10:53 am

It is hard to know at which temperature the oils are going to degrade without knowing what kind of oil you have....
So my suggestions are:
- Look around for a bigger centrifuge? The kind that can go up to 4x500ml per tube is kind of frequent in laboratory and have rotors that can handle much larger loads (but those are much less frequent), maybe there is one in the same building. And others can go much higher...
- Also for heat drying, a rotating vacuum evaporator (aka speedvac) which heats under a vacuum could help, but AFAIK you will not be able to put tubes much bigger than 50ml (and even then you are lucky, most are equipped with rotor for 1.5ml tubes).
- And one last thing, as every cook know, air is not a good medium for heat transfer, so if you can replace you oven by a sand or oil bath you will be able to both go over 100ºC and heat your samples faster. Also since you want to evaporate, use something with a large opening (or cause the humid air to move away from the sample) and with a large contact area with the heat source to accelerate drying

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Re: Urgent:Algal Oil Extraction..suggestions

Postby bebe » Thu Feb 04, 2010 2:42 am


I am student doing my final year project about algae oil extraction.

I have grow the algae Chrolle Vulgaris.
May I know where can I find information/procedures for harvesting (filtration method-lab scale) and drying methods?

Is it okay to use oven drying the algae after filtration? What should be the conditions?

Hope someone could help me out here.

Thank you very much.
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