Molecular and Lumped Products from Hydrothermal Liquefaction of Bovine Serum Albumin

James D. Sheehan, Phillip E. Savage

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24 Scopus citations


We examined the decomposition of and product formation from a model protein, bovine serum albumin (BSA), under hydrothermal conditions. BSA forms smaller polypeptides as it decomposes, primarily via hydrolytic cleavage of the peptide bonds. It also forms insoluble aggregates in high yields at mild conditions, which subsequently decompose. There were no polypeptides (MW > 5 kDa) remaining after 5 min at 350 °C, but smaller peptides persisted in yields of about 15 wt %. The total yield of free amino acids was typically <3 wt % but nearly reached 6 wt % at 250 °C and 60 min. Glycine and glutamic acid were the most abundant amino acids in the aqueous-phase products. The yields of primary and secondary amines reached 50 wt % and generally increased with time and temperature. Up to 40 mol % of the nitrogen in the BSA appeared as NH3 in the aqueous phase, and the NH3 yields increased with both time and temperature. Biocrude yields increased with reaction severity until reaching a maximum of about 20 wt %. Cyclic dipeptides were the most abundant GC-elutable components in the biocrude.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10967-10975
Number of pages9
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 6 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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