Adding value to wastewater by resource recovery and reformulation as growth media: current prospects and potential
Wastewater, despite being a serious environmental constraint, has been identified as a source of valuable commodities including phosphate, ammonia, metal ions and volatile fatty acids. Using low-cost physical pre-treatments, filtration technology gives the opportunity of recovering materials in purified concentrated liquid form and purified water. Filtration also allows manipulation of the nutrient content in the effluents enabling the formulation of a series of streams enriched with important chemical components, enabling their reformulation into balanced nutrient media for microbial growth and the production of biofuels, acids and other chemicals such as lipids and enzymes. This approach benefits industry through the use of a relatively abundant inexpensive feedstock able to be recycled to produce high value chemicals while reducing the carbon footprint of the fermentation and reducing waste disposal. Examples of potential schemes of nutrient formulation and their application are presented.