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OriginOil optimizes algae extraction efficiency

By Bryan Sims | October 04, 2011

Los Angeles-based algae extraction technology developer OriginOil Inc. has identified a new process that increases the efficiency of algae extraction without the use of hazardous solvents. The process, according to a statement by the company, harnesses a substance that occurs naturally in algae cells and improves its trademarked Single Step Extraction system by up to 15 percent.

According to OriginOil, the natural metabolite helps increase extraction yield and the potential value of processed algae and coproducts. Based on preliminary laboratory results using Nannochloropsis occulata, the company discovered efficiency gains on the order of 12 to 15 percent, according to the company. OriginOil added that the new process can also change the nature of organic compounds and has implications for the biorefining and chemical industries.

Unlike conventional extraction that typically uses toxic solvents such as hexane, the natural method is expected to allow algae process water to be recycled without cleanup.

“Typically, our industry uses highly-regulated solvents to get the most out of algae extraction,” said Paul Reep, senior vice president for OriginOil. “Our researchers have identified a naturally-occurring algal metabolite—a food for algae cells—that can improve extraction efficiency without such chemicals. We will immediately incorporate this breakthrough into our Single Step Extraction system.”

A patent application has been filed on the new technology, the company’s 21st, entitled “Apparatuses, Systems and Methods for Increasing Contact Between Solutes and Solvents in an Aqueous Medium.” Inventors of the specific optimization of the technology include Nicholas Eckelberry, Gavin Gray, Jose L. Sanchez Pina and Maxwell Roth.

“I’m proud of how we continue to innovate while engineering commercial products,” said Riggs Eckelberry, CEO of OriginOil. “This is the key to staying ahead in our fast-moving marketplace.”

In September, OriginOil forged collaborative agreement with the U.S. DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory to develop standards for converting biomass, including algae, into biofuels and other products. Specifically, the collaboration will entail investigating how algae can add energy content to other feedstocks such as woody and herbaceous materials, which are already being configured for biochemical and thermochemical upgrading for energy production. 

 

 

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