A systematic study of the effect of nitrogen levels in the cultivation medium of Chlorella vulgaris microalgae grown in photobioreactor (PBR) on biomass productivity, biochemical and elemental composition, fatty acid profile, heating value (HHV), and composition of the algae-derived fast pyrolysis (bio-oil) is presented in this work. A relatively high biomass productivity and cell concentration (1.5 g of dry biomass per liter of cultivation medium and 120 × 106 cells/ml, respectively) were achieved after 30 h of cultivation under N-rich medium. On the other hand, the highest lipid content (ca. 36 wt.% on dry biomass) was obtained under N-depletion cultivation conditions. The medium and low N levels favored also the increased concentration of the saturated and mono-unsaturated C16:0 and C18:1(n-9) fatty acids (FA) in the lipid/oil fraction, thus providing a raw lipid feedstock that can be more efficiently converted to high-quality biodiesel or green diesel (via hydrotreatment). In terms of overall lipid productivity, taking in consideration both the biomass concentration in the medium and the content of lipids on dry biomass, the most effective system was the N-rich one. The thermal (non-catalytic) pyrolysis of Chlorella vulgaris microalgae produced a highly complex bio-oil composition, including fatty acids, phenolics, ethers, ketones, etc., as well as aromatics, alkanes, and nitrogen compounds (pyrroles and amides), originating from the lipid, protein, and carbohydrate fractions of the microalgae. However, the catalytic fast pyrolysis using a highly acidic ZSM-5 zeolite, afforded a bio-oil enriched in mono-aromatics (BTX), reducing at the same time significantly oxygenated compounds such as phenolics, acids, ethers, and ketones. These effects were even more pronounced in the catalytic fast pyrolysis of Chlorella vulgaris residual biomass (after extraction of lipids), thus showing for the first time the potential of transforming this low value by-product towards high added value platform chemicals.
Environmental Science and Pollution Research – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 2018
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