Reaction of Sulfur and Sustainable Algae Oil for Polymer Synthesis and Enrichment of Saturated Triglycerides

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8 Citations (Scopus)


There is growing interest in the biobased production of lipids from algae. These lipids have a range of uses including nutritional supplements and precursors to biodiesel. Single-cell thraustochytrids are especially attractive in this regard in that they can produce over 50% of their weight as triglycerides. Furthermore, the distribution of saturated and unsaturated triglycerides can be modulated by changes in strain variation and fermentation conditions. Nonetheless, there remains a need for versatile downstream processing to enrich these so-called “single cell oils” into classes based on degree of unsaturation. In this study, we report a novel strategy for enriching saturated triglycerides produced in thraustochytrids. The method features direct reaction of elemental sulfur with the algae oil extract. Sulfur copolymerizes with >90% of the unsaturated triglycerides, providing a new route to a class of materials previously used in environmental remediation, Li–S battery cathodes, slow-release fertilizers, and insulation. The unreacted oil is enriched in saturated triglycerides, which can be isolated by extraction for potential use in biodiesel production. In this way, a single batch of sustainably produced algae oil can be converted into multiple useful products in a single step.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9022-9028
Number of pages7
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering
Issue number28
Early online date5 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2022


  • Inverse vulcanization
  • Polymer
  • Single cell oil
  • Sulfur
  • Schizochytrium thraustochytrids


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