Single-step disentanglement and fractionation of microalgal high-value products through acoustophoresis

    Project: EU research project

    Project Details


    Next generation biomass resources such as marine seaweed and micro-algae have advantages in comparison to terrestrial lignocellulosic biomass as they can grow on non-arable land at higher areal productivities. Aquatic biomass can provide renewable energy (e.g. biodiesel, bioethanol and biogas) as well as high-value molecules such as carotenoids, fatty acids, carbohydrates, proteins and food fibres, which can be used in food, feed, cosmetics, biomaterials, nanostructures and pharmaceutical industries. However, in order to greatly increase the economic viability of aquatic biomass, all components found in the biomass need to be valorized. Unfortunately, valorization of multiple biomass components is not possible using current/conventional biorefinery technologies, where up to 90% of the biomass is being treated as a waste. The value of these broken-down compounds sees more than a ten-fold reduction, rendering the biorefinery economically unfeasible. Therefore, in furtherance of developing multiproduct biorefineries, selective and economically feasible extraction and separation technologies will need to be developed and implemented. Significant microalgal cell disruption and extraction advances have been recently made by employing external fields such as lasers, ultrasonic waves and microwaves, in combination with less aggressive solvents and ionic liquids. However, the issues regarding the use of chemicals and multiple separation stages remain. Thus, we are proposing a game-changing single-step disentanglement and separation of microalgal high-value components by using acoustic waves at different frequencies allowing thus a complete process fine-tuning and eliminating the need for chemicals. Moreover, by including our previously-developed ultrasound disruption technology, the whole cell breakdown, extraction and separation steps could be reduced to one single process governed and finely-tuned through the employed frequency ranges.
    Effective start/end date6/01/205/01/22