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Article

High-Resolution Mass Spectrometry Study of the Bio-Oil Samples Produced by Thermal Liquefaction of Microalgae in Different Solvents

We have performed a comparative analysis of the bio-oil produced by thermal liquefaction of microalgae in different solvents using high-resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry and GC-MS approach. Water, methanol, ethanol, butanol, isopropanol, acetonitrile, toluene, and hexane were used as solvents in which the liquefaction was performed. It was observed that all resulting oils demonstrate a considerable degree of similarity. For all samples, compounds containing 1 and 2 nitrogen atoms dominated in the positive ESI spectra, while a relative contribution of other compounds was small. In negative ESI mode, compounds having 2 to 7 oxygens were observed. Statistical analysis revealed that products can be combined in two groups depending on the solvent used for the liquefaction. To the first group, we can attribute the products obtained by using protic (alcohols) and to the second by using aprotic (acetonitrile, toluene) solvents. Nevertheless, based on our results, we concluded that solvent possesses a minor impact on molecular composition of bio-oil. We suggested that the driving force of the liquefaction reaction is the thermal dehydration of the carbohydrate in algae, resulting in water formation, which could be the trigger of the producing of bio-oil. To prove this hypothesis, we performed the reaction with the dry algae in the absence of the solvent and observed the formation of bio-oil.