Investigation of initial pH effects on growth of an oleaginous microalgae Chlorella sp. HQ for lipid production and nutrient uptake

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

Using microalgae for synchronous biodiesel production and wastewater treatment is a promising technology. The growth, lipid accumulation and nutrient uptake characteristics of an oleaginous microalga Chlorella sp. HQ were evaluated at different initial pH from 5.0 to 11.0. The pH values changed towards neutrality and ended in the range 6.0–9.0 without artificial control. The alkalinity change before 8 days was in accordance with pH changing. The alkalinity increase after 8 days might be due to the nitrate consumption, CO2 absorption and the algal release at stationary phases. The algal maximal cell density and population growth rate increased with initial pH values while the specific growth rate kept high without significant difference. After 30 days, the maximal algal lipid yield reaching 167.5 mg · L−1 occurred at initial pH of 7.0 and the triacylglycerols content was significantly enhanced to 63.0% at initial pH of 5.0 but with a peak of 54.4 mg · L−1 at initial pH of 9.0. Furthermore, nutrients were taken up by the alga obviously at all initial pH values. The total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) uptake efficiencies in neutral/alkalic circumstances were larger than that in acid circumstance. The TN and TP were removed by 87.77% and 92.05%, respectively, at initial pH of 7.0.

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