Cell disruption for microalgae biorefineries

E. Günerken*, E. d'Hondt, M.H.M. Eppink, L. Garcia-Gonzalez, K. Elst, R.H. Wijffels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

551 Citations (Scopus)


Microalgae are a potential source for various valuable chemicals for commercial applications ranging from nutraceuticals to fuels. Objective in a biorefinery is to utilize biomass ingredients efficiently similarly to petroleum refineries in which oil is fractionated in fuels and a variety of products with higher value. Downstream processes in microalgae biorefineries consist of different steps whereof cell disruption is the most crucial part. To maintain the functionality of algae biochemicals during cell disruption while obtaining high disruption yields is an important challenge. Despite this need, studies on mild disruption of microalgae cells are limited. This review article focuses on the evaluation of conventional and emerging cell disruption technologies, and a comparison thereof with respect to their potential for the future microalgae biorefineries. The discussed techniques are bead milling, high pressure homogenization, high speed homogenization, ultrasonication, microwave treatment, pulsed electric field treatment, non-mechanical cell disruption and some emerging technologies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-260
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • microwave-assisted extraction
  • fluidized-bed adsorption
  • electric-field treatment
  • synechocystis pcc 6803
  • life-cycle assessment
  • chlorella-vulgaris
  • lipid extraction
  • microbial-cells
  • saccharomyces-cerevisiae
  • biodiesel production


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