Fatty acids for nutraceuticals and biofuels from hydrothermal carbonization of microalgae

Yingda Lu, Robert B. Levine, Phillip E. Savage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


We used hydrothermal carbonization (HTC) of wet algal biomass to facilitate extraction of algal lipids that have value for both liquid biofuels and dietary supplements (i.e., nutraceuticals). HTC of the wet algal slurry produced a solid hydrochar that retained more than 85% of the fatty acids in the original biomass and more than 75% of the valuable omega-3 fatty acid eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The mass yield of hydrochar was a linear function of the logarithm of the reaction ordinate, which is a measure of the severity of the carbonization conditions. The retained fatty acids could be readily extracted using ethanol, a renewable and food-grade solvent. A total fatty acid recovery of 74% was achieved through this combination of HTC and ethanol extraction. Thus, we herein demonstrate a process for removing fatty-acid-containing lipids from wet algae using only water and a non-petroleum-derived solvent. The recovered lipids include both those suitable for making biodiesel or green diesel and those suitable for the human diet.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4066-4071
Number of pages6
JournalIndustrial and Engineering Chemistry Research
Issue number16
StatePublished - Apr 29 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering


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