Growth of microalgal biomass on supernatant from biosolid dewatering

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

The paper reports the results of an experiment to assess the feasibility of including a photobioreactor within the design of a wastewater treatment plant, growing microalgae on the centrate from anaerobic sludge dewatering. The growth of algal biomass would take advantage of the available nitrogen and provide a substrate for biogas production by anaerobic digestion. Tests were carried out by semi-continuously feeding a photobioreactor with a centrate–effluent blend and by increasing the fraction of centrate. The experimental results show that the centrate does not induce any toxicity and, on the contrary, can be well utilized by microalgae, whose average specific growth rate (μ), on centrate as such, was between 0.04 and 0.06 d−1. The maximum biomass concentration in the photobioreactor effluent was 1.6 gSS/L at 10 days HRT (hydraulic retention time). Methane production tests led to biochemical methane production values of 335 ± 39, and 284 ± 68 mL 0°C, 1 atm CH4/g VS for the two tested samples, in agreement with literature values. Settling tests show that the settling capacity of microalgae, although satisfactory, could be effectively improved after mixing with activated sludge, confirming the potential to use the existing primary settler for microalgae thickening in order to feed microalgae for anaerobic digestion with primary/secondary sludge.

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