Multiproduct Microalgae Biorefineries Mediated by Ionic Liquids

Michel H.M. Eppink*, Sónia P.M. Ventura, João A.P. Coutinho, Rene H. Wijffels

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Ionic liquids (ILs) are salts with low melting points that can be used as solvents for mild extraction and selective fractionation of biomolecules (e.g., proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, and pigments), enabling the valorisation of microalgal biomass in a multiproduct biorefinery concept, while maintaining the biomolecules’ structural integrity and activity. Aqueous biphasic systems and emulsions stabilised by core-shell particles have been used to fractionate disrupted microalgal biomass into hydrophobic (lipids and pigments) and hydrophilic (proteins and carbohydrates) components. From nondisrupted biomass, the hydrophobic components can be directly extracted using ILs from intact cells, while the most fragile hydrophilic components can be obtained upon further mechanical cell disruption. These multiproduct biorefinery concepts will be discussed in an outlook on future separations using IL-based systems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1131-1143
JournalTrends in Biotechnology
Issue number11
Early online date13 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • biomolecules
  • biorefinery
  • extraction
  • ionic liquids
  • separation


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