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Geographic Analysis of Algae Production for Biofuels at Kansas Wastewater Treatment Plants

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Resource demand analyses indicate that commercial-scale algal biofuel production would necessitate unsustainable amounts of fertilizer and freshwater. Alternatively, municipal wastewater effluent can be used, but this restricts algal production to available areas near wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs). The goals of this analysis were to determine the available areas by land cover type up to 1.5 miles from WWTPs; to determine the limiting factors for algal production using wastewater; and to investigate the potential production at rural, near-urban, and urban WWTPs in Kansas. Approximately 51% and 87% of the land around urban and rural WWTPs, respectively, was identified as potentially available for algal production. Urban WWTPs are generally land-limited and have excess wastewater effluent, while most rural WWTPs are water-limited but have 96% of the total available land. Commercial-scale algae production collocated with WWTPs is feasible and would be optimized through supplementation of non-fresh water and waste nutrients at water-limited WWTPs.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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