A one-step process for the lysis of microalgae cell walls and separation of the cellular lipids for use in biofuel production by utilizing a hydrophilic ionic liquid, 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium. The hydrophilic ionic liquid both lyses the microalgae cell walls and forms two immiscible layers, one of which consists of the lipid contents of the lysed cells. After mixture of the hydrophilic ionic liquid with a suspension of microalgae cells, gravity causes a hydrophobic lipid phase to move to a top phase where it is removed from the mixture and purified. The hydrophilic ionic liquid is recycled to lyse new microalgae suspensions.
STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
The United States Government has certain rights to the disclosed invention pursuant to Contract Number DE-SC0001306 awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.