Nutrient Recovery from Algae Using Mild Oxidative Treatment and Ion Exchange

Tobias Hull, Kameron King, Jacob Kruger, Earl Christensen, Ali Chamas, Philip Pienkos, Tao Dong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Valorization of algal biomass to fuels and chemicals frequently requires pretreatment to lyse cells and extract lipids, leaving behind an extracted solid residue as an underutilized intermediate. Mild oxidative treatment (MOT) is a promising route to simultaneously convert nitrogen contained in these residues to easily recyclable ammonium and to convert carbon in the same fraction to biofuel precursor carboxylates. We show that for a Nannochloropsis algae under certain oxidation conditions, nearly all the nitrogen in the residues can be converted to ammonium and recovered by cation exchange, while up to ~20% of the carbon can be converted to short chain carboxylates. At the same time, we also show that soluble phosphorus in the form of phosphate can be selectively recovered by anion exchange, leaving a clean aqueous carbon stream for further upgrading.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)8573-8580
Number of pages8
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2800-88463


  • algae
  • biofuel
  • biomass
  • ion exchange
  • nutrient recovery
  • wet oxidation


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