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Microalgae Growth Using High-Strength Wastewater Followed by Anaerobic Co-Digestion

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Integration of algal biofuel production to wastewater anaerobic digestion infrastructure has the potential to increase biogas production, decrease high and variable internal nitrogen loads, and improve sludge digestibility and dewaterability. In this research, two species of microalgae, Spirulina platensis and Chlorella sp., were grown on sludge centrate and a centrate and nitrified wastewater effluent mixture. Harvested algae were co-digested with waste activated sludge (WAS) at varying ratios. High-growth (6.8 g m−2·d−1), nitrogen (36.5 g m−3·d−1), and phosphorus (6.5 g m−3·d−1) uptake rates were achieved with Chlorella on centrate. No growth was observed with S. platensis under the same conditions; however, both organisms grew well on the centrate and effluent mixture. Co-digestion of algae with WAS improved volatile solids reduction. Although co-digestion with S. platensis improved biosolids dewaterability, Chlorella had a slight negative effect on dewaterability compared to WAS alone. The efficiency of energy conversion from photons to biogas generated from Chlorella was estimated at 1.4%.
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Keywords: Chlorella; Spirulina; algae; anaerobic digestion; biofuel; centrate; wastewater

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2012-05-01

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    Water Environment Research (WER) publishes peer-reviewed research papers, research notes, state-of-the-art and critical reviews on original, fundamental and applied research in all scientific and technical areas related to water quality, pollution control, and management. An annual Literature Review provides a review of published books and articles on water quality topics from the previous year.

    Published as: Sewage Works Journal, 1928 - 1949; Sewage and Industrial Wastes, 1950 - 1959; Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, 1959 - Oct 1989; Research Journal Water Pollution Control Federation, Nov 1989 - 1991; Water Environment Research, 1992 - present.
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