The nutraceutical potential of microalgae boomed with the exploitation of new species and sustainable extraction systems of bioactive compounds. Thus, a laboratory-made continuous pressurized solvent extraction system (CPSE) was built to optimize the extraction of antioxidant compounds, such as carotenoids and PUFA, from a scarcely studied prokaryotic microalga, Gloeothece
sp. Following “green chemical principles” and using a GRAS solvent (ethanol), biomass amount, solvent flow-rate/pressure, temperature and solvent volume—including solvent recirculation—were sequentially optimized, with the carotenoids and PUFA content and antioxidant capacity being the objective functions. Gloeothece
sp. bioactive compounds were best extracted at 60 °C and 180 bar. Recirculation of solvent in several cycles (C) led to an 11-fold extraction increase of β-carotene (3C) and 7.4-fold extraction of C18:2 n6 t (5C) when compared to operation in open systems. To fully validate results CPSE, this system was compared to a conventional extraction method, ultrasound assisted extraction (UAE). CPSE proved superior in extraction yield, increasing total carotenoids extraction up 3-fold and total PUFA extraction by ca. 1.5-fold, with particular extraction increase of 18:3 n3 by 9.6-fold. Thus, CPSE proved to be an efficient and greener extraction method to obtain bioactive extract from Gloeothece
sp. for nutraceutical purposes—with low levels of resources spent, while lowering costs of production and environmental impacts.
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