A novel recovery process for lipids from microalgæ for biodiesel production using a hydrated phosphonium ionic liquid
The use of a hydrated phosphonium ionic liquid, [P(CH2OH)4]Cl, for the extraction of microalgæ lipids for biodiesel production, was evaluated using two microalgæ species, Chlorella vulgaris and Nannochloropsis oculata. The ionic liquid extraction was compared to the conventional Soxhlet, and Bligh & Dyer, methods, giving the highest extraction efficiency in the case of C. vulgaris, at 8.1%. The extraction from N. oculata achieved the highest lipid yield for Bligh & Dyer (17.3%), while the ionic liquid extracted 12.8%. Nevertheless, the ionic liquid extraction showed high affinity to neutral/saponifiable lipids, resulting in the highest fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs)-biodiesel yield (4.5%) for C. vulgaris. For N. oculata, the FAMEs yield of the ionic liquid and Bligh & Dyer extraction methods were similar (>8%), and much higher than for Soxhlet (<5%). The ionic liquid extraction proved especially suitable for lipid extraction from wet biomass, giving even higher extraction yields than from dry biomass, 14.9% and 12.8%, respectively (N. oculata). Remarkably, the overall yield of FAMEs was almost unchanged, 8.1% and 8.0%, for dry and wet biomass. The ionic liquid extraction process was also studied at ambient temperature, varying the extraction time, giving 75% of lipid and 93% of FAMEs recovery after thirty minutes, as compared to the extraction at 100 °C for one day. The recyclability study demonstrated that the ionic liquid was unchanged after treatment, and was successfully reused. The ionic liquid used is best described as [P(CH2OH)4]Cl·2H2O, where the water is not free, but strongly bound to the ions.