Shining a Light on Wastewater Treatment with Microalgae

Arab J Sci Eng. 2022 Jan 12:1-12. doi: 10.1007/s13369-021-06444-3. Online ahead of print.


Microalgae can produce biofuels, nutriceuticals, pigments and many other products, but commercialization has been limited by the cost of growing, harvesting and processing algal biomass. Nutrients, chiefly nitrogen and phosphorus, are a key cost for growing microalgae, but these nutrients are present in abundance in municipal wastewater where they pose environmental problems if not removed. This is not a traditional review article; rather, it is a fact-based set of suggestions that will have to be investigated by scientists and engineers. It is suggested that if microalgae were grown as biofilms rather than as planktonic cells, and if internal illumination rather than external illumination were employed, then the use of microalgae may provide useful improvements to the wastewater treatment process. The use of microalgae to remove nutrients from wastewater has been demonstrated, but has not yet been widely implemented due to cost, and because microalgae derived from wastewater treatment has not yet been demonstrated as a commercial source for value-added products. Future facilities are likely to be called Municipal Resource Recovery Facilities as wastewater will increasingly be viewed as a resource for water, biofuels, fertilizer, monitoring public health and value-added products. Advances in photonics will accelerate this transition.

PMID:35036288 | PMC:PMC8752175 | DOI:10.1007/s13369-021-06444-3


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