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Evaluation of various solvent systems for lipid extraction from wet microalgal biomass and its effects on primary metabolites of lipid-extracted biomass


Microalgae have tremendous potential to grow rapidly, synthesize, and accumulate lipids, proteins, and carbohydrates. The effects of solvent extraction of lipids on other metabolites such as proteins and carbohydrates in lipid-extracted algal (LEA) biomass are crucial aspects of algal biorefinery approach. An effective and economically feasible algae-based oil industry will depend on the selection of suitable solvent/s for lipid extraction, which has minimal effect on metabolites in lipid-extracted algae. In current study, six solvent systems were employed to extract lipids from dry and wet biomass of Scenedesmus obliquus. To explore the biorefinery concept, dichloromethane/methanol (2:1 v/v) was a suitable solvent for dry biomass; it gave 18.75% lipids (dry cell weight) in whole algal biomass, 32.79% proteins, and 24.73% carbohydrates in LEA biomass. In the case of wet biomass, in order to exploit all three metabolites, isopropanol/hexane (2:1 v/v) is an appropriate solvent system which gave 7.8% lipids (dry cell weight) in whole algal biomass, 20.97% proteins, and 22.87% carbohydrates in LEA biomass.

Lipid extraction from wet microalgal biomass and biorefianry approach

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The authors hereby acknowledge the National Research Foundation and Durban University of Technology for providing financial assistance.

Author information

Correspondence to Faizal Bux.

Additional information


• Lipid yield in wet biomass was less than the dry biomass.

• Protein and carbohydrate yields were comparable in both dry and wet biomass.

• Solvents show varying efficiencies of extraction in wet and dry biomass.

• DCM/methanol (2:1 v/v) was suitable solvent for lipid extraction from dry biomass.

• Isopropanol/hexane (2:1 v/v) is appropriate solvent systems for wet biomass.

Responsible editor: Santiago V. Luis

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Ansari, F.A., Gupta, S.K., Shriwastav, A. et al. Evaluation of various solvent systems for lipid extraction from wet microalgal biomass and its effects on primary metabolites of lipid-extracted biomass. Environ Sci Pollut Res 24, 15299–15307 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-017-9040-3

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  • Primary metabolites
  • Solvent extraction
  • Wet biomass
  • Microalgae
  • Scenedesmus obliquus