Pressurized extraction of unsaturated fatty acids and carotenoids from wet Chlorella vulgaris and Phaeodactylum tricornutum biomass using subcritical liquids
The objective of this study was to investigate the extraction of lipids, for example, mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) as well as carotenoids, from wet microalgae biomass using pressurized subcritical extraction solvents, which meet the requirements of food and feed applications. To demonstrate the effect of the solvent and temperature on the lipid yield, we chose two microalgae species, viz. Chlorella vulgaris and Phaeodactylum tricornutum, differing in their biochemical composition fundamentally. In case of P. tricornutum, ethanol showed the highest fatty acid yield of 85.9% w/w. In addition to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the ethanolic extracts contained exceptional amounts of fucoxanthin (up to 26.1 mg/g d. w.), which can be beneficial to protect unsaturated fatty acids from oxidation processes and in terms of human nutrition. For C. vulgaris, a fatty acid yield of 76.5% w/w was achieved from wet biomass using ethyl acetate at 150°C. In general, an increase in the extraction temperature up to 150°C was found to be important in terms of fatty acid yield when extracting wet microalgae biomass. The results suggest that it is possible to efficiently extract both fatty acids and carotenoids from wet microalgae by selecting suitable solvents and thus circumvent energy-intensive drying of the biomass.