Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1453–1463 | Cite as

Non-destructive hydrocarbon extraction from Botryococcus braunii BOT-22 (race B)

  • Navid R. Moheimani
  • Hiroshi Matsuura
  • Makoto M. Watanabe
  • Michael A. Borowitzka


There is worldwide interest in developing algal biofuel. One main reason for the lack of success so far in producing a sustainable transport fuel from microalgae is the high cost of biomass processing, especially dewatering and oil extraction. There is also a significant cost involved in the energy content of the nutrient fertilisers required for biomass production. Non-destructive oil extraction or “milking” from algae biomass has the potential to bypass all of these hurdles. Using a “milking” strategy means that there would be no need for (a) biomass dewatering, (b) breaking cells for oil extraction and (c) addition of nutrients to the culture, resulting in a significant reduction in energy and fertiliser cost involved in production of biofuel from algae. We make use of the natural tendency of Botryococcus to produce external hydrocarbon in the extracellular matrix. In current study, we showed that external hydrocarbon from Botryococcus braunii BOT-22 can be non-destructively extracted using n-heptane (optimum contact time with n-heptane = 20 min). We were able to recover almost the entire de novo-produced external hydrocarbons at 5- and 11-day intervals when the culture was maintained with or without 1 % CO2 addition, respectively. This repeated non-destructive extraction of external hydrocarbon of B. braunii was possible for up to 70 days when 1 % CO2 was supplied to the culture. When CO2 was limited, a 70 % lower external hydrocarbon productivity was achieved using the same process. Although the productivity of external hydrocarbon of 9.33 mg L−1 day−1 of the “milked” culture is low in these un-optimised cultures, it was 1.3 ± 0.2-fold higher compared with that of a conventional semicontinuous culture, showing the potential of this method.


Microalgae Bioenergy Milking Nutrient Sustainability 



This work was partly funded by the JSPS invitation fellowship program for research in Japan (long-term) to Navid R. Moheimani. The authors would like to thank Mr. Atsushi Nakazawa for his excellent technical support.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Navid R. Moheimani
    • 1
  • Hiroshi Matsuura
    • 2
  • Makoto M. Watanabe
    • 2
  • Michael A. Borowitzka
    • 1
  1. 1.Algae R&D Centre, School of Veterinary and Life SciencesMurdoch UniversityMurdochAustralia
  2. 2.Graduate School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of TsukubaTsukubaJapan

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