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Aqueous Extraction of the Sulfated Polysaccharide Ulvan from the Green Alga Ulva rigida—Kinetics and Modeling


The incentives for utilizing a versatile range of renewable feedstocks in novel ways are continuously increasing. Sulfated polysaccharides from green algae, such as ulvan, are interesting due to the rare sugar constituents which can be utilized for new materials and chemicals in industry. However, before valorization fractionation needs to be performed in a controlled way. In the current work, the kinetics of the aqueous extraction of ulvan was studied in the temperature range 60–130 °C. The highest yield of 97.6 wt.% was attained after 2 h of extraction at 130 °C, and the extraction efficiency was observed to be heavily temperature dependent. Interestingly, two regimes of extraction kinetics were observed, presumably due to the different ulvan fractions contained within the cell wall of green algae. The experimental data was modeled with first-order kinetics, and an apparent activation energy of 53.8 kJ mol−1 was obtained for the process. The algal residue was processed using simultaneous saccharification and fermentation, and 0.48 g ethanol g−1 of sugars was obtained.

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This work is a part of the activities of the Johan Gadolin Process Chemistry Centre (PCC), a Centre of Excellence financed by Åbo Akademi University. Also, the Bio4Energy program and the Wallenberg Wood Science Center are acknowledged. This work was partially financed by the Academy of Finland (AKA) (Grant Number 268937), the National Commission for Scientific and Technologic Research of the Government of Chile (CONICYT, Project AKA-ERNC 0009) and the Centre for Biotechnology and Bioengineering (CeBiB) FB-0001. Prof. Johan Bobacka, Sten Lindholm, and Luis Bezerra from PCC are acknowledged for their collaboration with ion-exchange chromatograph and the nitrogen content analysis. Prof. Mario Eddning from Northern Catholic University of Chile is acknowledged for providing the algal samples. Ricardo Pezoa-Conte gratefully acknowledges the CONICYT/Becas Chile for the scholarship (No. 72170085) provided to carry out this work.

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Correspondence to Jyri-Pekka Mikkola.

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Pezoa-Conte, R., Leyton, A., Baccini, A. et al. Aqueous Extraction of the Sulfated Polysaccharide Ulvan from the Green Alga Ulva rigida—Kinetics and Modeling. Bioenerg. Res. 10, 915–928 (2017).

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  • Green algae
  • Bio-ethanol
  • Extraction
  • Kinetics
  • Ulvan
  • Rhamnose