Lipid extraction and biomass processing

The extraction of lipids from microalgal biomass must be highly efficient in terms of capital investment and energy consumption. The development of effective processes requires a high level understanding of the underlying biology, chemical engineering principles, and process economics.

The APG has developed a scalable, low solvent, low temperature process for extracting lipids from wet microalgae biomass (Olmstead et al. 2013). By avoiding energy-intensive drying, and by enabling lipid extraction to be performed with minimal solvent this process can be highly energy efficient (Martin 2016). The process involves Concentration, Incubation, Disruption, Extraction and Separation (CIDES) and can be used to fractionate and retain the value of the lipids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and protein (Halim et al. 2016). Currently we are investigating the fundamentals of emulsification and demulsification during biphasic extraction and solvent recovery. Dr Halim is further investigating the mechanisms behind the cell weakening that occurs during the incubation stage of the CIDES process (Olmstead et al. 2013 and Halim et al. 2016).


G.J.O. Martin, Energy requirements for wet solvent extraction of lipids from microalgal biomass, Bioresource Technology, 205 (2016) 40–47.

R. Halim, P.A. Webley, G.J.O. Martin, The CIDES Process: fractionation of concentrated microalgal paste for co-production of biofuel, nutraceuticals, and high-grade protein feed, Algal Research, 19 (2016) 299–306.

I.L.D. Olmstead, S.E. Kentish, P.J. Scales, G.J.O. Martin, Low solvent, low temperature method for extracting biodiesel lipids from concentrated microalgal biomass, Bioresource Technology, 148 (2013) 615–619.