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Growth comparison of microalgae in tubular photobioreactor and open pond for treating anaerobic digestion piggery effluent

Nwoba, Emeka G., Ayre, Jeremy M., Moheimani, Navid R., Ubi, Benjamin E., Ogbonna, James C.
Algal research 2016 v.17 pp. 268-276
algae culture, ammonium nitrogen, anaerobic digestion, biofuels, biomass production, climatic factors, feeds, feedstocks, foaming, greenhouse gases, lipids, microalgae, photobioreactors, protein content, wastewater, wastewater treatment, winter
The overwhelming interest in the use of microalgae to handle associated nutrient surge from anaerobic digestion technologies for the treatment of wastewater, is driven by the need for efficient nutrient recovery, greenhouse gas mitigation, wastewater treatment and biomass reuse. Here, the feasibility of growth and ammonium nitrogen removal rate of semi-continuous mixed microalgae culture in paddle wheel-driven raceway pond and helical tubular closed photobioreactor (Biocoil) for treating sand-filtered, undiluted anaerobic digestion piggery effluent (ADPE) was compared under outdoor climatic conditions between June and September 2015 austral winter season. Two Biocoils, (airlift and submersible centrifugal pump driven) were tested. Despite several attempts in using airlift-driven Biocoil (e.g. modification of the sparger design), no net microalgae growth was observed due to intense foaming and loss of culture. Initial ammonium nitrogen concentration in the Biocoil and pond was 893.03±17.0mg NH4+-NL−1. Overall, similar average ammonium nitrogen removal rate in Biocoil (24.6±7.18mg NH4+-NL−1day−1) and raceway pond (25.9±8.6mg NH4+-NL−1day−1) was achieved. The average volumetric biomass productivity of microalgae grown in the Biocoil (25.03±0.24mg AFDW L−1day−1) was 2.1 times higher than in raceway pond. While no significant differences were detected between the cultivation systems, the overall carbohydrate, lipid and protein contents of the consortium averaged 29.17±3.22, 32.79±3.26 and 23.29±2.15% AFDW respectively, revealing its suitability as animal feed or potential biofuel feedstock. The consortium could be maintained in semi-continuous culture for more than three months without changes in the algal composition. Results indicated that microalgae consortium is suitable for simultaneous nutrient removal and biomass production from piggery effluent.