Publications

Closing Domestic Nutrient Cycles Using Microalgae

Vasconcelos Fernandes, T.; Shresthat, R.; Suit, Y.; Papini, G.; Zeeman, G.; Vet, L.E.M.; Wijffels, R.H.; Lamers, P.P.

Summary

This study demonstrates that microalgae can effectively recover all P and N from anaerobically treated black water (toilet wastewater). Thus, enabling the removal of nutrients from the black water and the generation of a valuable algae product in one step. Screening experiments with green microalgae and cyanobacteria showed that all tested green microalgae species successfully grew on anaerobically treated black water. In a subsequent controlled experiment in flat-panel photobioreactors, Chlorella sorokiniana was able to remove 100% of the phosphorus and nitrogen from the medium. Phosphorus was depleted within 4 days while nitrogen took 12 days to reach depletion. The phosphorus and nitrogen removal rates during the initial linear growth phase were 17 and 122 mg·L–1·d–1, respectively. After this initial phase, the phosphorus was depleted. The nitrogen removal rate continued to decrease in the second phase, resulting in an overall removal rate of 80 mg·L–1·d–1. The biomass concentration at the end of the experiment was 11.5 g·L–1, with a P content of approximately 1% and a N content of 7.6%. This high algal biomass concentration, together with a relatively short P recovery time, is a promising finding for future post-treatment of black water while gaining valuable algal biomass for further application.