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Algae for Wastewater Treatment Plant in St.Paul, Minnesota

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A team of researchers from the University of Minnesota partnered with the Metropolitan Council for the project, using concentrated liquid waste, separated from the solids to grow several species of algae that can thrive in wastewater. The project started in 2006 on a much smaller scale, using wastewater in labs, and recently moved to Met Council’s treatment plant.






A pilot project for growing algae in a wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul, Minn., will serve the following functions:

1. Removing nitrogen and phosphorus from the water before it’s flushed into the Mississippi River

2. Producing algal biomass for future use in the manufacturing of biofuels and

3. The extracted nitrogen and phosphorus will be used to produce fertilizers.

Using a wastewater plant to grow the algae saves a significant amount in capital and energy, said Rod Larkins, associate director of IREE. “You have to fertilize algae, but in our case, the fertilizer is already there,” he said.The project will eventually save Met Council the cost of removing phosphorus to meet Minnesota Pollution Control Agency mandates, which is usually done by adding salts to the water.

The team hopes to use gaseous waste (Uncontained airborne emissions and effluents that may consist of particulate matter, dust, fumes, gas, mist, smoke, or vapor, or any combinations thereof) from the Met Council’s fluidized bed gasifier in the future, but currently gets its carbon dioxide supply from a pure tank. The team is also in early discussions with Xcel Energy to obtain waste carbon dioxide and maybe nitrogen oxide, according to Ruan.

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One Response to “Algae for Wastewater Treatment Plant in St.Paul, Minnesota”

  1. Gbedsworth Says:

    Re: Algae at water treatment plants:  Will this work when a plant uses the Bardenpho process?  This pocess removes nitrogen and phosphorus befor discharge? 

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