BioEnergy Research

, Volume 9, Issue 2, pp 682–690 | Cite as

Process Analysis of Alkaline Flocculation Harvesting for Chaetoceros muelleri and Scenedesmus quadricauda

  • Shuhao HuoEmail author
  • Zhongming Wang
  • Shunni Zhu
  • Fengjie Cui
  • Bin Zou
  • Feng Wang
  • Zhenhong YuanEmail author
  • Renjie Dong
  • Pengxiang Zhao


Alkaline flocculation could be an attractive microalgae harvesting method, because it is low-cost, low energy consumption, and non-toxic to microalgal cells, and the high pH effectively sterilizes the microalgal biomass as well as the process water. In this paper, the mechanism of alkaline flocculation process and the difference between the two strains marine diatom Chaetoceros muelleri #862 and freshwater algae Scenedesmus quadricauda #507 were analyzed. The particle size of C. muelleri #862 cells increased linearly with the increasing pH value which increased dramatically by nearly fivefolds after alkaline flocculation. When pH was below 10.5, the absolute value of zeta potential on the surface of C. muelleri #862 increased rapidly, and also the conductivity of the solution declined quickly. The alkaline flocculation of C. muelleri #862 was mainly attributed to the production of Mg(OH)2 rather than calcium phosphate or calcium hydroxide. For the strain S. quadricauda #507, the cells still existed integrally as normal cells after alkaline flocculation. Firstly, with the increasing of pH in the solution, the absolute value of zeta potential had not declined. When pH was around 10.8, the absolute value of zeta potential had declined abruptly and the solution conductivity was increasing all the time. The cell wall of S. quadricauda #507 with the high content of cellulose Iα and low crystallization degree was good for the next step of saccharification or oil extraction.


Microalgae harvesting Alkaline flocculation Mechanism Characterization techniques 



This research was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (21206177, 21506084), the Senior Talent Scientific Research Initial Funding Project of Jiangsu University (14JDG024), the Natural Science Foundation of Jiangsu Province (BK20140540), the China Postdoctoral Science Foundation (2014 M551519, 2015 T80502), the State Grid Science and Technology Program (SGECS56-2014), and the key Laboratory of Renewable Energy, Chinese Academy of Sciences (No. y507k11001).

Authors’ Contribution

Shuhao Huo wrote the main part of the paper and performed the experiments. Zhongming Wang, Shunni Zhu, Renjie Dong, and Zhenhong Yuan revised the paper. Other authors read and approved the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shuhao Huo
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Zhongming Wang
    • 2
  • Shunni Zhu
    • 2
  • Fengjie Cui
    • 1
  • Bin Zou
    • 1
  • Feng Wang
    • 1
  • Zhenhong Yuan
    • 2
    Email author
  • Renjie Dong
    • 3
  • Pengxiang Zhao
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Food and Biological EngineeringJiangsu UniversityZhenjiangChina
  2. 2.Guangzhou Institute of Energy Conversion, Chinese Academy of Sciences; Key Laboratory of Renewable EnergyChinese Academy of SciencesGuangzhouChina
  3. 3.College of EngineeringChina Agricultural UniversityBeijingChina
  4. 4.Beijing Biomass Energy Technology CenterState Grid Energy Conservation Service Ltd.BeijingChina

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