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Oil Extraction from Spirulina Algae was an EPIC FAILURE I need help ASAP

Science Fair project FAILURE needs help ASAP

Specimen Preparation Oct 13th                      Images 1- 10Photo #’s

Drying Weighing & Observations of materials

        (4) Received samples were crushed to fine powder and exposed in a bag @ 77 degrees, in a low humidity environment to obtain a dry mass weight uniform to all samples for the starting weight in comparison and analysis. Crushing was to a uniform consistency

Volume measures were documented by 8oz dry Algal sample size to determine accuracy, along with physical characteristics noted on color and consistency and information relevant to the environment each was found in.


Extraction of organic oil                                                       Images 1- 10Photo #’s

Extracting Oil from Algae by Chemical Solvent  (Hexane)

  • Heard that typically 10grams of dry algae yield 1-3grams of extracted oil
  • (60grams=2oz yields 6-18 grams of extracted oils)  We need a minimum of 3 grams for our second step


steps taken to release the oils

  1. 1) Break the cell walls with a mortar and pestle
  2. 2) Weigh a container beaker or similar (Tare)
  3. 3) Place 7oz (200 grams) Spirulina dry sample into beaker 
  4. 4) Place 6oz of Hexane-N (c6H14)Solvent into container covering sample
  5. 5) Mix/Shake vigorously and let stand for 12 hours repeat x2 closed container
  6. 6) Filter off top layer of Hexane (liquid/solid) from the mixture     (WE DID KEEP remainder not discarded)
  7. 7) Leave Hexane portion stand for 24 hours to evaporate hexanes leaving behind oil in open container  

                    THIS FAILED Hexane all evaporated leaving behind nothing but thin layer of dried green powder

                    (No OIL residue ) !!!

     😎 Took the remains (previously discarded) and added water then sealing container

               This separated to some degree into layers but none of them look like oil

          Bright blue layer on top of a large dark biomass with some floating algal matter on top of blue layer

          none of this looks remotely like OIL ?  very watery consistency

* I have many photos of this if you want to view and give input

Our Thoughts are that Oil should not be in this watery mess in the first place as it was expected to be absorbed into the hexane layer that we removed

   Possible outcomes

          There was no oil in the Spiritual samples to acquire ?

          Write the project up as a failure and try to explain why it has failed ?

          Go after other stuff to find the oil

           Syphon off the layers and try to evaporate the water we added back out ?

          Add another chemical like ethanol to see if we can get results by removing that layer and evaporate it ?

          Filtering this mess is absolutely impossible with nylons or coffee filter due t the size of pulverized micro algae

          We are working with home tools (No lab equipment No centrifuge No sep funnel etc )

          This Beautiful Blue color layer is awesome !!!

               Perhaps we can learn how to make a bright blue dye from it instead of

                    I feel like Thomas Edison today ...Found one way not to get Oil from algae

                                                            Any help out there ?

This project is due completion in a weeks time Oct 25th and we are at a complete impass without some help from a science teacher or chemist

The samples of Algae were purchased and I have a sneaky suspicion OIL may have been removed from these products

even though they say RAW spirulina algae

Any thoughts are very much appreciated as panic sets in

(941)456-2799 cell

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New Contributor

Re: Oil Extraction from Spirulina Algae was an EPIC FAILURE I need help ASAP

According to the USDA Food composition database (Food Composition Databases Show Foods List ), dried spirulina has 7.72 grams total lipid per 100 grams. It might be that the oil is bound up in the tissue such that a mortar and pestle is insufficient to break it up. You might try mixing the dried spirulina with water, grinding it in a blender, pour the slurry into a beaker, add hexane (outside with the chemist upwind (use a fan if no wind)), mix (this is where a sep funnel would be ideal), let the mixture separate, decant the top hexane layer and allow to evaporate as before (outside, of course).

The blue pigments  from the spirulina, which is a bluegreen algae, so you are breaking up the cells enough to release them.

New Contributor

Re: Oil Extraction from Spirulina Algae was an EPIC FAILURE I need help ASAP

As a cyanobacterium, spirulina does not use lipids for energy storage.  Much of the lipid content is bound up as phospholipids in membranes, etc., so simple hexane extraction will be largely unsuccessful.  You really want to extract a diatom species.

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