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Extraction of carotenoids from Chlorella vulgaris using green solvents and syngas production from residual biomass

Damergi, Eya, Schwitzguébel, Jean-Paul, Refardt, Dominik, Sharma, Shivom, Holliger, Christof, Ludwig, Christian
Algal research 2017 v.25 pp. 488-495
Chlorella vulgaris, biofuels, biomass, carotenoids, economic sustainability, energy, energy content, energy recovery, ethanol, fuel production, gasification, harvesting, microalgae, natural gas, solvents, synthesis gas, value-added products
A combined process for carotenoids extraction and efficient bioenergy recovery from the wet microalgae biomass is proposed. High added-value products could thus be extracted prior a hydrothermal gasification of the algal biomass into synthetic natural gas. The economic sustainability of biofuel production from algal biomass as well as the large energy demands of microalgae cultivation and harvesting is addressed in this paper. Two green solvents, ethanol and 2-methyltetrahydrofuran (MTHF), were used to achieve the maximum extractability of selected carotenoids. Pure MTHF was tested for the first time as an alternative renewable solvent for carotenoid extraction from wet biomass and promising results were obtained (30min at 110°C), with 45% of total carotenoids being extracted. The energy content of the residual biomass corresponds to a High Heating Value (HHV) of 18.1MJ/kg. With a 1:1 mixture of both MTHF and ethanol, more carotenoids were extracted from wet biomass (66%) and the remaining HHV of the residual biomass was 15.7MJ/kg. The perspectives of combined carotenoid extraction and energy recovery for a better microalgae valorization are discussed.