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Microalgae and Waste Water Treatment – Why Employ Algae to Clean Up Waste Water?

January 20th, 2014 | No Comments | Posted in Algae, Algae Waste Water Treatment

Algae is considered to be one of the most effective bioremediation agent and is being researched world-wide for treating the waste water emitted by various industries and sewage treatment plant. It’s suitability to extreme growth conditions, capability to remove heavy metals from the waste water and its capability to abate carbon -dioxide makes it an effective agent for waste water treatment.  This blog post focuses on the key advantages of employing algae to clean up waste water. Some of the reasons for employing algae as a bioremediation agent include.

Algae can  grow in extreme climatic conditions – Its suitability for extreme growth conditions, microalgae could be found in various harsh environmental conditions. Different strains with such remarkable features are undoubtedly good candidates for various purposes in wastewater treatment.

Immense Capability to Remove Metals –   Trace quantities of many metals such as nickel (Ni), lead (Pb), chromium (Cr) and mercury (Hg) are important constituents of most wastewaters. Algae have the ability to accumulate the heavy metals and thereby remove toxic compounds from the wastewater. Many algae have immense capability to remove metals from wastewaters. Algae can effectively remove metals from multi-metal solutions.

Algae Produces Oxygen with Low Energy Input – Algae wastewater treatment consumes low energy compared to more conventional systems. In a successful wastewater treatment test, algae grow simultaneously with the oxidizing bacteria, producing oxygen as fast as it is required by bacteria. In the process of bacterial oxidation of incoming waste, algae photosynthesis represents an ample supp1y of oxygen in the water of a pond being decontaminated.

High Efficiency to Fix Carbon-dioxide –  Micro algae have the ability to fix CO2 with efficiency 10 times greater than that of terrestrial plants. Typically 1.8 tons of CO2 are required to produce 1 ton of algae.

Produces Numerous Useful Products – The resulting algal biomass from wastewater treatment plant can be converted into feedstock for fish, poultry, pigs, or even cows helping to reduce the overall costs of food. It can also be used in various sustainable energy generation systems. Various other products derived from  waste water algae  can be found from my previous post – Link .

Doesn’t Require Complex Systems for Operation– The intensive chemical or bacterial biodegradation technologies are not easily transferable to the polluted sites; neither is the transport of wastewater to decontamination plants. A more versatile and feasible way has to be designed to suit this special demand. Microalgae may play a central role in this case. It offers a cost effective treatment option. It does not require complex systems for operation.

 Ease of Handling– Microalgae can be harvested by precipitation, centrifugation or filtration, and preserved as a dry powder or immobilized as solid pills for easy transport to the remediation sites.

Low Cost and Flexibility of Culture – Wastewater often contains enough inorganic nutrients to meet the requirements of algal growth. Thus, the total cost for microalgae cultivation and maintenance on site should be low relative to that for the more delicate and sophisticated treatment options.

Other advantages include:

Consumption of nutrients by algae represents an alternative solution for meeting new nutrient discharge criteria.
Potential sale of nutrient credits generated through nutrient reductions
Potential revenues from sale of biofuels produced
Potential sale of carbon credits
Bringing basic sanitation services to the millions who lack them – this is a top public health priority for many countries.
Low capex and opex compared to other treatment processes.

Read more from Oilgae’s Algae-Based Waste Water Treatment – The one and only such report in the world  Oilgae has published a unique report to assist those keen on understanding the algae-based waste water treatment technology and those wanting to venture into this industry. The Oilgae’s guide to waste water treatment is a comprehensive guide to understanding the algae-based waste water treatment, technolgies, challenges and the players that are involved in this industry. Linkhttp://www.oilgae.com/ref/report/wastewater_treatment/wastewater_treatment.html  

Read Related Blogs:

Commonly Used Algae Strains for Waste Water Treatment

Similarities and Differences of Treating Municipal Waste Water and Industrial Waste Water Using Algae

Algae Clean Waste Water to Produce Numerous Useful Products

Issues and Challenges Associated with Cleaning Waste Water Using Algae

Solving the Issues of Current Waste Water Treatment Practices Using Algae 



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