Recovery of Lipids from Algae
One of the crucial steps in generating biofuel from algae is the separation and recovery of lipids from algal biomass. These lipids are eventually converted into liquid biofuel after processing and refining. This chapter presents an overview of extraction techniques and some of the challenges in applying these techniques to industrial-scale algal biofuel production. Lipids are well-encased inside algal cell walls. The aqueous environment of the cells makes it even more difficult to extract the lipids. Hexane extraction is presently the most economical method. Cell-disrupting methods have been attempted as complementary techniques to hexane extraction. Other methods such as super-critical fluid extraction and microwave extraction that may prove better in future are still in developmental stages. The need to dry the algal biomass is a key challenge in hexane extraction. The development of on-site smaller-capacity technologies can be another vital step to enhance industrial-scale biofuel production.