The interest in algae oil extraction has enlarged greatly for the last few years as the received oil may be used not only for human consumption but also for animal consumption and for biofuel production. Algae oil is produced from algae, a large group of organisms living in the water as Wikipedia states. Algae oil was made primarily from macroalgae such as oar leaf seaweed and large algae like this. Today the producers of algae oil are focused on microalgae, for example, phytoplankton. How to get oil from algae?
Process of algae oil extraction
Algae oil extraction is made mechanically and chemically. When the oil is derived with the help of a press or sound waves it is called mechanically pressed. When chemical solvents are used to extract algae oil the oil is chemically pressed. The entire process of algae oil extraction includes several steps. First of all, algae are harvested. Then they are de-watered. Special de-watering presses or centrifuges are used and algae are heat dried. And only then the oil is extracted mechanically or chemically.
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How to get oil from algae at home
Algae oil is sold in a form of liquid algae oil or as algae oil supplements. You may buy them in health stores and online, for example, at amazon.com. Now we’ll tell you how to get oil from algae at home. The process is rather complicated and needs a lot of time and effort.
Things you’ll need
- Oil press
- 2 containers
- Hexane solvent
- Photobioreactor if you want to culture algae by yourself
If you want you may culture algae by yourself. It is possible to use an open 10 meters x 100 meters x 30 centimeters raceway with a paddlewheel. You may make a greenhouse. But the best way is to make a photobioreactor with horizontal and vertical tubes where algae are cultivated and where the water is circulated continuously.
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The best way to extract the oil is to use dry extraction methods. They require preliminary drying of algae in the sun or in a dryer. Once you have dry algae (you may buy them), you may start the process of extraction:
- Put the oil press on the table and position two containers, one for the oil exit, the second one for the algae exit. We will need the algae pulp later on.
- Place dry algae into the press. As the algae pulp and the oil exit the press feed more dry algae in. The oil you are receiving is ready for use, but we will extract more oil from the algae pulp.
- For this, take the algae pulp and put it in a container. Put on a breathing mask to work with hexane. The hexane is mildly toxic but it can still irritate skin, eyes and cause nausea. When the mask is on add the hexane to saturate the pulp. This will help remove the rest of the oil from algae.
- Now you should filter the mixture of the algae pulp and hexane. The last step is to distill the mixture of hexane and oil received after filtering. Now you may add this oil to the oil received after pressing.