• Astaxanthin;
  • Haematococcus pluvialis;
  • Saponification;
  • SFE-CO2

Conventional solvent extraction methods cannot attain high-quality antioxidant extracts from microalgae and also require solvent recovery and posttreatment. In this study, we utilized environmental friendly supercritical carbon dioxide fluid extraction (SFE-CO2) techniques to obtain pigment (i.e. astaxanthin) from Haematococcus pluvialis. The effects of key operating parameters on the extraction efficiency of astaxanthin were investigated, giving an optimal condition of H. pluvialis weight, 6.5 g; CO2-flow rate, 6.0 NL/min; extraction time, 20 min; extraction pressure, 4500 psi; volume of ethanol modifier added, 9.23 mL/g; extraction temperature, 50°C; modifier composition, 99.5%. Under these optimum conditions, the astaxanthin yield was 73.9% (10.92 mg/g dry H. pluvialis powder) after eight cycle of extraction cycles. The saponification index (CS/C0, representing the ratio of astaxanthin concentration after and before the saponification procedures) of the extract could be increased from 1 to 12.78 by saponification with 3.5 M NaOH.