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Magnetic-Nanoflocculant-Assisted Water-Nonpolar Solvent Interface Sieve for Microalgae Harvesting

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18336-18343
Number of pages8
JournalACS Applied Materials and Interfaces
Issue number33
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2015
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Exploitation of magnetic flocculants is regarded as a very promising energy-saving approach to microalgae harvesting. However, its practical applicability remains limited, mainly because of the problem of the postharvest separation of magnetic flocculants from microalgal flocs, which is crucial both for magnetic-flocculant recycling and high-purity microalgal biomasses, but which is also a very challenging and energy-consuming step. In the present study, we designed magnetic nanoflocculants dually functionalizable by two different organosilane compounds, (3-aminopropyl)triethoxysilane (APTES) and octyltriethoxysilane (OTES), which flocculate negatively charged microalgae and are readily detachable at the water-nonpolar organic solvent (NOS) interface only by application of an external magnetic field. APTES functionalization imparts a positive zeta potential charge (29.6 mV) to magnetic nanoflocculants, thereby enabling microalgae flocculation with 98.5% harvesting efficiency (with a dosage of 1.6 g of dMNF/g of cells). OTES functionalization imparts lipophilicity to magnetic nanoflocculants to make them compatible with NOS, thus effecting efficient separation of magnetic flocculants passing through the water-NOS interface sieve from hydrophilic microalgae. Our new energy-saving approach to microalgae harvesting concentrates microalgal cultures (∼1.5 g/L) up to 60 g/L, which can be directly connected to the following process of NOS-assisted wet lipid extraction or biodiesel production, and therefore provides, by simplifying multiple downstream processes, a great potential cost reduction in microalgae-based biorefinement. (Figure Presented).

ASJC Scopus subject areas


  • functionalization, harvesting, interfacial tension, magnetic materials, microalgae, recovery