Utilisation of wastewater nutrients for microalgae growth for anaerobic co-digestion

The feasibility of growing microalgae in natural light using wastewater high in nutrients (N & P) for the production of more bioenergy was examined.

The main retrofitting unit would be a photobioreactor for wastewater treatment plants (wwtp) having anaerobic digesters in close proximity.

Theoretical microalgae production rates from different wastewater sources (municipal wwtp, source separation of human and animal wastewaters) were estimated using mass balance.

Mass and energy balances for a conventional wwtp using chemically enhanced primary treatment was investigated for microalgae growth for a situation limited by availability of carbon dioxide (CO2) generated onsite and where additional CO2 was imported from outside source.

Reject water from dewatering of anaerobically digested sludge from four wwtp around Oslo region were pretreated for improved light penetration and examined for microalgae growth.

Several pre-treatment methods were investigated. Pretreatment using flocculation + settling + anthracite filtration yielded high light transmittance.

A maximum microalgae growth rate of 13 g TSS/m2-d was achieved using this pretreated reject water. The challenges of integrating photobioreactors with existing units have been highlighted.

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Sahu A., Siljudalen J., Trydal T. and Rusten B.: Utilisation of wastewater nutrients for microalgae growth for anaerobic co-digestion.