High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry Study of the Bio-Oil Samples Produced by Thermal Liquefaction of Microalgae in Different Solvents

  • Yury Kostyukevich
  • Mihail Vlaskin
  • Alexander Zherebker
  • Anatoly Grigorenko
  • Ludmila Borisova
  • Eugene NikolaevEmail author
Research Article


We have performed a comparative analysis of the bio-oil produced by thermal liquefaction of microalgae in different solvents using high-resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry and GC-MS approach. Water, methanol, ethanol, butanol, isopropanol, acetonitrile, toluene, and hexane were used as solvents in which the liquefaction was performed. It was observed that all resulting oils demonstrate a considerable degree of similarity. For all samples, compounds containing 1 and 2 nitrogen atoms dominated in the positive ESI spectra, while a relative contribution of other compounds was small. In negative ESI mode, compounds having 2 to 7 oxygens were observed. Statistical analysis revealed that products can be combined in two groups depending on the solvent used for the liquefaction. To the first group, we can attribute the products obtained by using protic (alcohols) and to the second by using aprotic (acetonitrile, toluene) solvents. Nevertheless, based on our results, we concluded that solvent possesses a minor impact on molecular composition of bio-oil. We suggested that the driving force of the liquefaction reaction is the thermal dehydration of the carbohydrate in algae, resulting in water formation, which could be the trigger of the producing of bio-oil. To prove this hypothesis, we performed the reaction with the dry algae in the absence of the solvent and observed the formation of bio-oil.

Graphical Abstract


Bio-oil Mass spectrometry Petroleum Dissolved organic matter FT ICR ESI 



The investigation of the sample using ultrahigh resolution mass spectrometry was supported by Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 18-79-10127). The development of the liquefaction reactor was supported by Russian Science Foundation (grant no. 17-19-01617).

Author Contributions

The manuscript was written through contributions of all authors. All authors have given approval to the final version of the manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Competing Interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

13361_2018_2128_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 1029 kb)


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Copyright information

© American Society for Mass Spectrometry 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Skolkovo Institute of Science and TechnologyMoscowRussia
  2. 2.Institute for Energy Problems of Chemical PhysicsRussian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Moscow Institute of Physics and TechnologyMoscow RegionRussia
  4. 4.Joint Institute for High Temperatures (JIHT) of Russian Academy of SciencesMoscowRussia
  5. 5.National Research University Higher School of EconomicsMoscowRussia

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