High Pressure Homogenisation for the Cell Disruption of Algae

by gstrongitharm in BPS News, BPS Right Sidebar Content


Extraction of biofuels and bio-products from algae is on the rise. Recent years has seen a substantial increase in demand for food, energy and valuable chemicals, which has led to the rise of R&D on renewable, novel and sustainable resources [1].

The ability of algae to grow in a range of aquatic environments, from freshwater to saturated saline, and their efficient utilization of CO2, allows this group of single-celled organisms to offer a viable alternative to fossil fuel processing, as well as the production of various bio-products.

In addition, they can produce biomass very rapidly, and have the capacity to produce energy-rich oils [1]. The single-cell nature of microalgae means that they duplicate by division, and so high-throughput technologies can be used to rapidly evolve strains [2].

One of the most critical steps in the bioprocessing of algae to optimize economy and yield is the cell disruption stage. The functionality of algae biochemicals must be maintained while obtaining high disruption yields, hence the need for an efficient, scalable process.

High pressure homogenization (HPH) offers the best solution to meet this requirement, and is the most widely used method. A 2015 study on green alga cell disruption is just one of the numerous studies online showcasing its effectiveness [3].

The forced passage of cells through a narrow orifice offers a direct disruption of the algal cell wall via forces such as shear stress, turbulence and cavitation, as the cells pass from orifice to chamber, thus providing a high disruption efficiency.

Pressure is the key process parameter of HPH, in that the required pressure depends on the different cell wall structures of different microorganism species. For example, Chlorella sp. generally requires 15,000-17,000psi, whilst Nannochloropsis sp. requires 28,000-30,000psi. Performing multiple passes (recirculating) often increases cell disruption levels, with 2-3 passes being most common.

The widely-favoured Avestin range of high pressure homogenisers offers adjustable homogenising pressures between 500-30,000psi, with available sample temperature control, if required, ensuring the optimal process parameters can be applied for even the toughest of cells.

Avestin’s unique, dynamic homogenising valve (where the narrow orifice exists) minimises blockage risk, compared to many of the fixed geometry valves elsewhere on the market, making it an industry-favourite in bioprocessing.

Avestin C55 (55L/hr)

From the benchtop (3L/hr) scale, up to the pilot (20L/hr) and production (500-1000L/hr) scale, the systems offer scalability along with a number of options/accessories, including:

  • Stringent temperature control
  • GMP options/certifications
  • Automatic pressure control
  • 21 CFR Part 11 Compliance
  • Extruder attachments (for liposome processing)

For more information on the Avestin high pressure homogenisers – click here

Contact us: bps@biopharma.co.uk


[1]: Koutra, E., Economou, C.N., Tsafrikadou, P., Kornaros, M. (2018). Bio-Based Products from Microalgae Cultivated in Digestates.. Trends in Biotechnology. 36 (8), 819-833.

[2]: Hannon, M., Gimpel, J., Tran, M., Rasala, B., Mayfield, . (2010). Biofuels from algae: challenges and potential. Biofuels. 1 (5), 763-784.

[3]: Wang, D., Li, Y., Hu, X., Su, W., Zhong, M. (2015). Combined Enzymatic and Mechanical Cell Disruption and Lipid Extraction of Green Alga Neochloris oleoabundans. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 16 (4), 7707-7722.

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