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Mechanistic Assessment of Microalgal Lipid Extraction

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journal contribution
posted on 2010-03-17, 00:00 authored by Amrita Ranjan, Chetna Patil, Vijayanand S. Moholkar
In this paper, we have attempted to make a comparative assessment of the three techniques for extraction of lipids from microalgal biomass, viz. Soxhlet extraction, the Bligh and Dyer method, and sonication. The approach is mechanistic in the sense that we have tried to determine the physical mechanism of extraction of lipids (cell disruption or diffusion across a cell wall) from microalgae using microscopic analysis of extracted biomass. We have also assessed the relative influence of the solvent (or extractant) selectivity and the intensity of convection in the medium on the overall lipid yield. None of the techniques used produced complete disruption of the cells, not even sonication. Thus, the prominent mechanism of lipid extraction was diffusion across a cell wall. Moreover, the selectivity of the solvent was found to be the most dominating factor in overall lipid extraction by diffusion than the intensity of bulk convection in the medium.