OriginOil, Inc. has succeeded in extracting algae oil on a continuous basis without cell sacrifice in the laboratory at bench scale. The company is scaling the process up to an intermediate 20-gallon tank size. This new ‘milking’ process will join the company’s Cascading Production technique to create a combined cycle promising new efficiencies. (Earlier post.)
|Harvesting lipids in the Live Extraction process. Click to enlarge.|
Live Extraction achieves continuous production of algae oil without destroying the algae cell, allowing a single algae cell to produce more oil during its lifetime using lower amounts of energy. Unlike other approaches to live extraction, OriginOil’s process does not employ expensive consumables such as reverse osmosis membranes; furthermore, it is not limited to oil-bearing algae strains, such as Botryococcus braunii, that are known to excrete algae oil naturally.
The company recently filed for patent protection of the new Live Extraction process, which works by stimulating the algae cells through specific electrical modulations, according to Riggs Eckelberry, OriginOil’s CEO.
We are pleased with the results we are getting from conventional harvesting. We expect the new Live Extraction process to coexist with our daily ‘destructive’ process to create an even more efficient combined cycle.—Vikram Pattarkine, PhD, OriginOil’s CTO
Aside from any production gains, combining the two harvesting processes is desirable because algae cultures must be refreshed regularly to remove waste toxins. Cascading Production supports Live Extraction by removing a percentage of the culture every day, refreshing the environment and giving the algae culture space to grow.