Algae oil

I've been reading about biodiesel and about using vegitable oil from algae. It would seem that per acre you can produce 250 times as much vegitable oil using algae than soy beans. I've been looking into the necessary parts for a very small scale demonstration project, including production, harvesting, drying and converting oil into diesel, but I'm having problems finding information of oil extraction. There are some very large oil extractors using screw and expeller. Even a very small one would cost several thousand dollars and since it is made for seeds I'm not sure it would work with algae. Does anyone here know about oil extraction process and how it can be scaled down and used with algae? The system I envision would only take the first pass in extracting oil, about 70%. From what I've been reading it is possible to get another 25% but requires some very nasty chemicals. Also, taking only that first press, the leftovers (refered to as "oil cake") makes for an excellent animal feed. After extracting that last 25% the leftovers are no longer suitable because of the toxic chemicals used. I'd rather have the 70% and animal feed and not have to bother with some very elaborate procedures for handling toxic chemicals. Anyone else interested in helping to put together a demo project like this? I already have resources on converting voil to biodiesel. Like I said, I'm mostly looking for information on extracting the oil. Thanks

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zaronas5 years ago
well its been two years have you gotten your job and made on of these and did it work?
neeniehose5 years ago
I'm not an expert and these are just some thoughts;
If your using unicellular algae, the cell membranes could be lysed or broken by chemical or mechanical methods. Mechanical methods would avoid the toxicity of adding chemicals and reduce the cost of a process. cells can be ruptured in alot of ways, as mentioned in a lot posts, but a hundred years ago when I was in a cell biology course, we ruptured cells to extract dna, ribosomes, etc. with a waring blender. a waring blender is about the same as a kitchen blender

we put tissues in the blender and whipped it around in the blender for 10 min

now seperating the water from the "oil" since the oil should float on top of the water most of the water could be removed with a seperatory funnel and the oil your left with be run thru a column of anhydrous calcium chloride

just a thought
Qcks6 years ago
Screw expellers can't process algae correctly.
it's too small, and a good portion of algae isn't processed at all.
What is processed can retain large amounts of oil.

Most algae oil operations utilize a multi-step process for extracting oil, and, depending on what i was doing with the oil, i'd do the same. Here's my basic process as simplified as i can make it:

1. Concentrate the algae. I'd remove as much excess water as possible, and i'd do this by simply filtering the water through a coffee filter or similar small mesh. You're looking to adjust the consistency of the algae culture to something more akin to apple sauce.

2. Basic Lysolysis. After I concentrated the algae into a slurry, I'd introduce sodium or potassium hydroxide. The "dryer" the hydroxide, the better off you'd be. though they're strong bases, sodium and potassium hydroxide can act as salts, removing the water from the algae. It also breaks down a number of fatty esters, which can be useful in extraction.
Lipids can be released at this stage, and are easy to remove because the lipids should float, and can be syphoned off.

3. Filter the Aqueous layer. Again, strain the product. However this time, you want to keep the aqueous layer instead of the algal layer. All that should be left of the algal is lysed algae cells.
If you want to recover the lysed algae, you can, but it probably needs to acidified before you try to use this as a feed stock. hydrochloric acid produces salt as the by-product.

4. Acidification. By treating the algae with a strong base, a fair amount of the oils should be converted into soluble carboxylate salts. In order to recover these salts, simply acidify the aqueous solution.
Since toxic chemicals are to be avoided, i suggest using a simple protic acid like hydrochloric acid. This makes the by-products equivalent to salt, water, and the carboxylic acids.
Mach56 years ago
If anyone is still reading this there is a video on youtube of a flax seed oil extractor, with a link to plans.

Any developments on the algae oil press? Looking to obtain or build one as well..
ebcat8 years ago
 Yes I am doing a school project about that, and I have to pres algae for obtain the oil. I am going to test diferent ways. 

Press dried algae, press wet algae, breaking algae cells with a strong change of osmotic pressure.

Please if you know something, contact me.

A good way, would be a cylinder, with a piston, and a drill system to squeeze hard the algae.
What would you use to press the oil out from the algae
finnally I only got "decent" results dissolving the inside oil with etanol or/and dietyl-eter. That solvents passed throught the cell wall and membrane. Later I let the solven evaporate, and I get oil.

breaking the cells with physical methods (crushing) I also get some oil bubles floating in water...

but if you want lot of oil, not only for lab tests..., I suggest u to use a good press, you can make a homemade one with an hidraulic car's jack.
srr12787 years ago
what about using the dried algae in gasifier or wood burner. you still get to test the energy potential with out the expensive presses. just a thought. ive know about his technology for awhile but just started looking into it
goujosamma7 years ago
What about thermal refinement? seems like a good use for fractional distillation, maybe?
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