Extraction, characterization, purification and catalytic upgrading of algae lipids to fuel-like hydrocarbons

Eduardo Santillan-Jimenez, Robert Pace, Sarah Marques, Tonya Morgan, Courtney McKelphin, Justin Mobley, Mark Crocker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The extraction, characterization, purification and upgrading of algal lipids was examined, utilizing Scenedesmus acutus microalgae grown with flue gas from a coal-fired power plant. Lipid extraction was achieved using a procedure based on the Bligh-Dyer method, modified so as to utilize a significantly decreased solvent:biomass ratio than the original protocol. Both activated carbon and K10 montmorillonite were found to function as efficient adsorbents for the removal of chlorophyll, phospholipids and sterols from the crude algae oil. The yield of purified lipids using this approach was similar to that obtained by in situ transesterification of the lipids in S. acutus, confirming that adsorption is an effective method for the removal of non-esterifiable lipids. During the deoxygenation of the purified algae oil at 260 °C over a Ni-Al layered double hydroxide catalyst, deactivation of the catalyst was observed, attributed to the presence of highly unsaturated lipid chains which can act as poisons by adsorbing strongly to the catalyst surface and/or acting as precursors to coke formation. However, upgrading at 300 °C gave better results, the liquid product consisting of ∼99 wt% hydrocarbons, diesel-like (C10-C20) hydrocarbons constituting 76 wt% of the liquid after 4 h on stream.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)668-678
Number of pages11
StatePublished - Sep 15 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • Algae
  • Characterization
  • Extraction
  • Lipids
  • Purification
  • Upgrading

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Organic Chemistry


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