Algae biomass cultivation in nitrogen rich biogas digestate
Because microalgae are known for quick biomass growth and nutrient uptake, there has been much interest in their use in research on wastewater treatment methods. While many studies have concentrated on the algal treatment of wastewaters with low to medium ammonium concentrations, there are several liquid waste streams with high ammonium concentrations that microalgae could potentially treat. The aim of this paper was to test ammonium tolerance of the indigenous algae community of Lake Mälaren and to use this mixed consortia of algae to remove nutrients from biogas digestate. Algae from Lake Mälaren were cultivated in Jaworski's Medium containing a range of ammonium concentrations and the resulting algal growth was determined. The algae were able to grow at NH4-N concentrations of up to 200 mg L−1 after which there was significant inhibition. To test the effectiveness of the lake water algae on the treatment of biogas digestate, different pre-cultivation set-ups and biogas digestate concentrations were tested. It was determined that mixing pre-cultivated suspension algae with 25% of biogas digestate by volume, resulting in an ammonium concentration of around 300 mg L−1, produced the highest algal growth. The algae were effective in removing 72.8 ± 2.2% of NH4-N and 41.4 ± 41.4% of PO4-P.