Optimization of Solvent Extraction of Lipids from Yarrowia lipolytica towards Industrial Applications
Extraction of intracellular lipids of the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica has been systematically studied aiming towards a sustainable extraction process for lipid recovery. Selection of suitable industrial (bulk) solvents and extraction parameters that lead to maximization of lipid recovery are significant issues to be addressed, with industrial applications motivating this study. Biomass from fermentation of Yarrowia lipolytica (MUCL 28849) was used in small laboratory tests to assess different solvent mixtures (i.e., methanol/hexane, isopropanol/hexane, and methanol/ethyl acetate), implementing a systematic design of experiments methodology to identify near-optimum values of key extraction variables (i.e., polar/non-polar ratio, vortex time, dry biomass/solvent ratio) in regard to lipid yield (g lipids/g dry biomass). The methanol/hexane mixture exhibited the highest extraction yield in a wide range of experimental conditions, resulting in the following optimum parameters: polar/non-polar ratio 3/5, vortex time 0.75 h, and dry biomass/solvent ratio 40. Extraction tests on a fifty-times-larger scale (in a Soxhlet apparatus employing the optimal extraction parameters) confirmed the optimization outcome by obtaining up to 27.6% lipids per dry biomass (L/DB), compared to 12.1% L/DB with the reference lipid extraction method employing chloroform/methanol. Assessment of lipid composition showed that unsaturated fatty acid recovery was favored by the methanol/hexane solvent. Fatty acid composition was not affected by the increase in Soxhlet reflux cycles, whilst the lipid yield was notably favored.