Author(s): Frenz J, Largeau C, Casadevall E, Kollerup F, Daugulis AJ
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Abstract Various water-immiscible solvents were tested for biocompatibility and hydrocarbon recovery under different contact conditions with the hydrocarbon-rich microalga Botryococcus braunii. Eighteen solvents were first selected from a database of 1500 compounds (compiled for solvent selection for ethanol recovery from Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation). Nine of these candidate solvents were shown to be biocompatible with B. braunii following short contact times. This biocompatibility tends to be associated with high molecular weights and high boiling points but strongly depends on solvent chemical structure. A low polarity is essential to biocompatibility and calculated octanol-water partition coefficients, or capacity factors determined by reversed-phase high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), are suitable predictors of biocompatibility with B. braunii. High recoveries of hydrocarbons directly from the algal culture require relatively polar solvents and are, therefore, inimical with maintenance of cell viability. The inaccessibility of weakly polar solvents to the cell surface appears to protect the algae but also prevents substantial recovery of the hydrocarbons stored in B. braunii outer walls. In order to achieve a high recovery, contact with the solvent must be carried out on algae concentrated by filtration. Then, a large fraction of B. braunii hydrocarbons can be recovered, after a short contact time, without impairing cell viability. Under these conditions, the pertinent solvent property is affinity for the nonpolar hydrocarbons, and the highest recovery yield, approximately 70\% after contact for 30 min, is achieved with hexane.
This article was published in Biotechnol Bioeng
and referenced in Journal of Fundamentals of Renewable Energy and Applications