Philipp. Sci. Lett. 2014 7 (1) 138-145
available online: April 23, 2014
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Received: December 18, 2013
Revised: March 27, 2014
Accepted: March 28, 2014
Microalgae are one of the best candidates for biofuel production owing to their numerous advantages over other oil crops. However, challenges still exist in the entire production chain due to the high energy input at every step of the process, particularly the drying stage. This study investigated the mechanism of water extraction at the molecular level of an algal cell under the influence of osmotic pressure using Molecular Dynamics simulations. The calculated area per lipid of 0.67 nm² of the cell membrane agrees well with other simulation and experimental results. Moreover, the membrane thickness and volume were seen to increase with rising temperature from 330 K. An osmotic pressure as low as 69.2 MPa showed a significant amount of water permeating across the lipid membrane. The occurrence of this water permeation is hastened at higher osmotic pressures. These results can lead to new techniques and suggest further research to provide information that may help realize an alternative and cheaper method of microalgae drying.