One-step mild biorefinery of functional biomolecules from microalgae extracts

R.K. Desai, H.J.M. Monteillet, Xiaohua Li, Boelo Schuur, J.M. Kleijn, F.A.M. Leermakers, R.H. Wijffels, M.H.M. Eppink*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Fractionation of complex matrices such as biomass into diverse functional biomolecules without disrupting the biomolecule functionalities is a real challenge. Known separation processes are designed for the recovery
of single products such as hydrophilic proteins or hydrophobic pigments, discarding the other products as waste. Here we present a concept for one-step biorefinery of hydrophobic and hydrophilic biomolecules from complex matrices using an ionic liquid-based surfactant free emulsion stabilised by microgel
particles, while maintaining the product integrity. We demonstrate the process by simultaneous extraction of pigments and proteins from a microalgae extract; the hydrophobic pigments are transferred to the ionic liquid droplets and the proteins to the aqueous continuous phase. In contrast to most solvent extraction
procedures, with this concept, the proteins retain their nativity, opening up an extraction pathway to fully functioning proteins while harvesting hydrophobes. A perspective towards continuous operation of this novel process is presented.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-187
JournalReaction Chemistry & Engineering
Issue number2
Early online date17 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


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