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Phycocyanin is an abundant protein-pigment complex in many photosynthetic microbes and the feedstock for several emerging products in the food and pharmaceutical industries. The purpose of this project was to research the effectiveness of sonication technology to improve the efficiency and yields of phycocyanin production from the cyanobacterium Spirulina platensis. Sonication is the application of sound energy to agitate and break particles or cells. When used to augment the current methods of phycocyanin production, it has the potential benefit of reducing cell extraction volumes and increasing the yield of phycocyanin. Experiments were conducted to determine the effects of sonication time on the release of phycocyanin from concentrated S. platensis cell suspensions. The results show that sonication of a cell suspension containing 80 g dry weight S. platensis per 400 mL water for ~ 400 seconds provides maximum release of phycocyanin. The conventional method requires several hours of soaking 90 g dry weight S. platensis per 1000 mL water and achieves a lower degree of extraction. In summary, sonication can improve the efficiency of the conventional phycocyanin production process by shortening the time needed for initial release of phycocyanin from cells and with a smaller volume (more concentrated) cell suspension.

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