Influence of extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) produced by two different green unicellular algae on membrane filtration in an algae-based biofuel production process

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In the present study, two strains of green algae named S1 and S2, categorized as the same species of Pseudo-coccomyxa ellipsoidea but showing 99% homology, were cultivated under the same conditions and filtrated with a microfiltration membrane. On the basis of the results of the extracellular polysaccharides (EPS) characteristics of these two green algae and the degree of fouling, the influence of these characteristics on the performance of membrane filtration was investigated. There was no difference in the specific growth rate between the S1 and S2 strains; however, large differences were seen in the amount and quality of EPS between S1 and S2. When the S1 and S2 strains were filtered with a membrane, the trend in the increase in transmembrane pressure (TMP) was quite different. The filtration of the S1 strain showed a rapid increase in TMP, whereas the TMP of the filtration of the S2 strain did not increase at all during the operation. This clearly demonstrated that the characteristics of each strain affect the development of membrane fouling. On the basis of the detailed characterization of solved-EPS (s-EPS) and bound-EPS (b-EPS), it was clarified that s-EPS mainly contributed to irreversible fouling for both operations and the biopolymer-like organic matter contained in b-EPS mainly contributed to reversible fouling.

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