Non-dispersive process for insoluble oil recovery from aqueous slurries
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The development and application of a novel non-polar oil recovery process utilizing a non-dispersive solvent extraction method to coalesce and recover oil from a bio-cellular aqueous slurry is described herein. The process could apply to recovery of algal oil from a lysed algae slurry, recovery of Omega fatty acids from a bio-cellular aqueous feed, recovery of Beta-carotene from a bio-cellular aqueous feed and for the removal from produced water in oil production and similar type applications. The technique of the present invention utilizes a microporous hollow fiber (MHF) membrane contactor. The novel non-polar oil recovery process described herein can be coupled to a collecting fluid (a non-polar solvent such as heptane, a biodiesel mixture or the previously extracted oil) that is circulated through the hollow fiber membrane. In cases where the biodiesel mixture or the previously extracted oil is used the solvent recovery step (e.g. distillation) can be eliminated.