Available Technologies

Lipid Extraction from Algae without Dewatering

UAH-P-14016-Lipid Extraction from Algae without Dewatering

Docket: UAH-P-14016

Technology

In accordance with the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, a minimum of 36 billion gallons of biofuel should account for transportation fuel sold annually in the U.S. by 2022. Twenty-one billion of these must be derived from non-cornstarch products. Microalgae have become a promising biofuel source due to their incomparably high oil content and minimal space requirements.

Unfortunately, harvesting and concentrating algal biomass for oil extraction can be difficult. Algae is typically grown in suspended form, and current extraction methods generally require the biomass to be dewatered and dried before extraction can take place. These dewatering requirements can account for 80-85% of the total energy used to generate the biofuel from the algae. This energy-intensive process often requires a higher energy input than can be recovered from the resulting fuel.

Researchers at UAH have developed a lipid extraction method that does not require dehydration or concentration of the biomass before extraction can occur. The algae can be treated in suspension with environmentally friendly chemicals, and the extracted lipid can undergo transesterification with no further processing. This extraction process can be done in less than a minute depending on the algae strain, and the percent extraction is comparable to or exceeds that of current methods. The reduced energy input makes this a cost-effective alternative to standard extraction methods.

Applications

  • Biofuel production

Advantages

  • Reduces time and energy requirements over current extraction methods
  • No further processing needed for transesterification
  • Cost effective
  • Uses environmentally friendly chemicals
  • Minimal capital outlay
  • Addresses federal mandate

Status

  • State of Development: Proof of concept
  • Licensing Status: Available for licensing
  • Patent Status: Patent Pending