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Environment-Enhancing Energy: A Novel Wastewater Treatment System that Maximizes Algal Biofuel Production and Minimizes Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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A novel system, “Environment-Enhancing Energy” (E2-Energy), for algal biofuel production is proposed that integrates algal biomass production during wastewater treatment and hydrothermal liquefaction of that biomass into bio-crude oil. A series of algae cultivation and hydrothermal liquefaction experiments were conducted to confirm several key characteristics of this novel system: 1) fast-growing low-lipid algal biomass can be produced during wastewater treatment; 2) this biomass produced can be converted into bio-crude oil via hydrothermal liquefaction with a positive energy balance; 3) the system can recycle the nutrient content of the incoming waste stream to support multiple cycles of algae growth. This process effectively leverages the waste nutrients for maximum biomass production and carbon capture that could be up to 10 times the original mass of organics in the wastewater. It also resolves several key bottlenecks for large-scale algal biofuel production including the contamination of target high-oil algal cultures, high nutrient cost inputs, as well as the significant energy inputs for dewateringlextraction. This approach could ultimately replace petroleum imports using only waste inputs and carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Keywords: Algae; Biofuel; carbon capture; hydrothermal liquefaction; nutrient recycle; wastewater treatment

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2175/193864711802793579

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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