Cyclic fractionation process for Saccharina latissima using aqueous chelator and ion exchange resin
A new approach to process Saccharina latissima algal biomass was developed using sodium citrate and a polyvalent cation-specific resin to sequentially extract the alginate into several usable fractions. The fractionation was performed in a cyclic manner, utilizing a stepwise removal of the native polyvalent ions present in the algae to isolate fractions of alginate with different solubility in the presence of these ions. Sodium citrate was used in different concentrations in the extraction solution to remove polyvalent cations to adjust the alginate liberation while AMBERLITE IRC718 resin was added to further remove these ions and regenerate the extraction solution. Alginate was recovered by acid precipitation and analyzed for its uronic acid composition and molecular weight, and the carbohydrate compositions of the insoluble and soluble parts of the algal biomass residue were determined. Finally, the fractionation method was assessed with a life cycle analysis to determine the energy and water efficiency as well as the greenhouse gas emissions and the results were compared to conventional alkaline extraction. The results indicate that the energy and water use as well as the emissions are considerably lower for the cyclic extraction in comparison with the conventional methods.