Biofuel Extraction from Algae: New Discovery

According to the research published by University of Utah in Chemical Engineering Science X, the chemical engineers have developed a new kind of jet mixer that extracts the lipids with much less energy than the older extraction method. It is a key discovery that now, puts this form of energy closer to becoming a viable, cost-effective alternative fuel.

Packed inside the microorganisms growing in ponds, lakes and rivers are lipids, which are fatty acid molecules containing oil that can be extracted to power diesel engines. When extracted, the lipids are called biocrude. That makes organisms such as microalgae an attractive form of biomass, organic matter that can be used as a sustainable fuel source.

“The team has created a new mixing extractor, a reactor that shoots jets of the solvent at jets of algae, creating a localized turbulence in which the lipids jump a short distance into the stream of solvent. The solvent then is taken out and can be recycled to be used again in the process, and this technology could also be applied to a variety of microorganisms such as bacteria, and fungi” said Swomitra ‘Bobby’ Mohanty, a co-author on the paper.

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