Biodiesel from wastewater: lipid production in high rate algal pond receiving disinfected effluent

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The production of different species of microalgae in consortium with other micro-organisms from wastewaters may represent an alternative process, to reduce the costs, for obtaining biofuels. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of pre-ultraviolet disinfection (UV) in the production of lipids from biomass produced in high rate ponds. Two high rate algal ponds were evaluated: a pond that received domestic sewage without disinfection and the other receiving domestic sewage previously disinfected by UV radiation (uvHRAP). The UV disinfection did not lead to significant differences in fatty acid profile and total lipid productivities, although it increased algal biomass concentration and productivity as well as lipid content. Moreover, the overall biomass concentrations and productivities decreased with the UV disinfection, mostly as a consequence of a loss in bacterial load. We thus conclude that uvHRAP disinfection may represent a potential strategy to promote the cleaner and safer growth of algal biomass when cultivated in consortium with other micro-organisms. Mainly regarding the use of wastewater as culture medium, together with a cheaper production of lipids for biodiesel, pre-disinfection may represent an advance since extraction costs could be significantly trimmed due to the increase in lipid content.

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