January 18 2012

Wastewater Treatment with Algal Production

While research and development of algal biofuels are currently receiving much interest and funding, they are still not commercially viable at today’s fossil fuel prices. However, a niche opportunity may exist where algae are grown as a by-product of high rate algal ponds (HRAPs) operated for wastewater treatment. In addition to significantly better economics, algal biofuel production from wastewater treatment HRAPs has a much smaller environmental footprint compared to commercial algal production HRAPs which consume freshwater and fertilizers.

Algae Waste Water Treatment Biofuel Productions

Algae, during production, reduce Chemical oxygen demands (COD) and Biological Oxygen demands (BOD) of wastewater through photosynthesis process and utilize dissolved solids for production of its biomass. Algae can produce >20 times more oil per hectare than terrestrial oilseed crops such as soy and canola. Therefore growing algae on these waste streams appears to be a win-win situation. In the end, the water comes out purified and energy-rich biomass is created.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has taken serious initiatives for this technology and probably OMEGA (Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae) is the largest project of its kind for algal production in floating plastic bags filled with wastewater on a sea surface (to maximize surface area)Nasa Omega Project.

However, apart from sustainable outcomes, wastewater treatment with algae production is still not that popular among municipalities, mainly because of absence/lag of biofuel reform, resulting due to no social media marketing and branding for environmental design in this sector worldwide.

Do you think, without taking biofuels into account, treatment of wastewater with algae would be a better option for municipalities/councils to treat their domestic wastewater?

Credits: Images and data linked to sources.

Ubaid Khan

Ubaid Khan has over six years of operational, development, technical and environmental experience in the Waste Management and the Environmental Industry sectors in the Middle East and United Kingdom. During his career he liaised with various municipalities and undertaken a variety of environmental projects including planning waste management schemes for urban regions, design and construction of engineered landfills, landfill gas recovery systems, and material recovery facilities. Ubaid has completed his MSc in Energy and Environmental Management from University of Abertay Dundee, with distinction.In response of his academic achievements during the course university had awarded “University of Abertay Dundee Excellence Scholarship award for year 2010-11.”

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012 at 12:56 pm and is filed under Community/Economic Development, Energy, Environment, Environmental Design, Environmental Non-Profit, Government/Politics, Land Use, Technology, Urban Development/Real Estate, Urban Planning and Design. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “Wastewater Treatment with Algal Production”

  1. Anneke Cilliers Says:

    Yes. I spent two years working with the treatment of brewery effluent with high rate algal ponds, and it is possible to use treated effluent to grow food crops such as fish and vegetables, and to use the algae for fertilizers and animal feed.

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