Bioprocess and biosystems engineering

Room-temperature storage of microalgae in water-in-oil emulsions: influence of solid particle type and concentration in the oil phase.

PMID 26463181


Water-in-oil emulsions containing silica nanoparticles (Aerosil R974) have the potential to stabilize microalgae for long-term storage. Studies were completed to determine if smectite clays could be used as an alternative to Aerosil R974. Emulsions were prepared with Aerosil R974, and hectorite and bentonite clays in the continuous phase and Chlorella sorokiniana was added to the aqueous phase to monitor the effects of solid particles on emulsion stability. Biological stability (cell viability) was determined using cell density measurements, and physical stability was measured from water droplet size distributions obtained by light scattering measurements and by examining phase separation over time. Measurements were also made to determine the effects of particles in the oil phase on emulsion viscosity. Particle concentrations greater than 0.25 wt% in the oil phase were required for maintaining physical stability. In emulsions containing 1 wt% solid particles and microalgae, biological stability of cells could be sustained for 340 days, regardless of particle type. At 1 wt% particles in the oil phase, apparent viscosity was 165% greater for samples containing hectorite and bentonite clays compared to samples containing Aerosil R974. The higher viscosity would need to be considered in large-scale production of emulsions for commercial application.