Can You Grow Algae From Waste Water To Produce Bio Fuel?

Algae From Waste Water

Rice University Has Done One Of The First Studies On Using Municipal Waste Water To Grow Algae

The scientists found that it was quite easy to grow algae using waste water. The algae they where able to grow were the high value strains of oil rich algae that are needed to produce biofuel.

The side benefit of the process was that 90% of nitrates and 50% of phosphorous was removed from the waste water.

The study went on to say.

Wastewater treatment facilities currently have no cost-effective means of removing large volumes of nitrates or phosphorous from treated water, so algae production with wastewater has the potential of solving two problems at once, said study co-author Evan Siemann, Rice’s Harry C. and Olga K. Wiess Professor of BioSciences.

“The idea has been on the books for quite a while, but there are questions, including whether it can be done in open tanks and whether it will be adaptable for monoculture — a preferred process where producers grow one algal strain that’s optimized to yield particular products,” he said. “We were surprised at how little had been done to test these questions. There are a number of laboratory studies, but we found only one previous large-scale study, which was conducted at a wastewater facility in Kansas.”

“We recorded prolific algal growth in all 12 tanks,” he said. “Our results are likely to be very encouraging to algae producers because the case they would prefer — monocultures with no fish and no cross-contamination — was the case where we saw optimal performance.”

“Using wastewater would be one of the best solutions to make algaculture sustainable,” she said. “If temperature is key, then cultivation may be more economical in the Southeast and Southwest.” She noted that other factors, like starting levels of nitrogen and phosphorous, might have caused a rate-limiting effect. “These are the kinds of questions future studies would need to address to optimize this process and make it more attractive for investors,” she said.

The Source Article has more details on this study.

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