Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 9

Search results for: photobioreactors

9 Potential of Palm Oil Mill Effluent in Algae Cultivation for Biodiesel Production

Authors: Nur Azreena Idris, Soh Kheang Loh, Harrison Lau Lik Nang, Yuen May Choo, Eminour Muzalina Mustafa, Vijaysri Vello, Cheng Yau Tan, Siew Moi Phang


It is estimated that about 0.65-0.67 m3 of palm oil mill effluent (POME) is generated when one tonne of fresh fruit bunches is processed. Owning to the high content of nutrients in POME, it has high potential as a medium for microalgae growth. This study attempted determining the growth rate, biomass productivity and biochemical composition of microalgae (Chlorella sp.) grown in different POME concentrations i.e. 6.25%, 12.5%, 25% and 50% at outdoor conditions using a 200-mL capacity high rate algae pond (HRAP) and 2 closed photobioreactors (PBRs) i.e. annular and flat panel. The strain, Chlorella sp. grown on 12.5% of POME in flat panel PBR exhibited the highest specific growth rate of 0.32/day and biomass productivity (27.1 mg/L/day) followed by those in HRAP and annular PBR. It further showed that a good growth of Chlorella sp. in 12.5% of POME could sufficiently reduce the nutrients of POME such as phosphate (PO4), nitrate (NO3), nitrite (NO2) and chemical oxygen demand (COD). The extracted algal oil from POME culture showed that the saturated fatty acids decreased while polyunsaturated fatty acids increased compared to those cultured in standard culture medium (Bold’s Basal medium). The biochemical compositions of the algae grown in flat panel PBR were the highest with lipid, protein and carbohydrate productivity of 17.91 mg/L/day, 34.65 mg/L/day and 21.44 mg/L/day, respectively. The microalgae cultivation in diluted POME had not only shown potential as biodiesel feedstock based on the fatty acids profile but also the ability to reduce pollutants e.g. PO4, NO3, NO2 and COD in biological wastewater treatment.

Keywords: wastewater treatment, photobioreactors, biomass productivity, specific growth rate

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8 Intentional Cultivation of Non-toxic Filamentous Cyanobacteria Tolypothrix as an Approach to Treat Eutrophic Waters

Authors: Simona Lucakova, Irena Branyikova


Eutrophication, a condition when water becomes over-enriched with nutrients (P, N), can lead to undesirable excessive growth of phytoplankton, so-called algal bloom. This process results in the accumulation of toxin-producing cyanobacteria and oxygen depletion, both possibly leading to the collapse of the whole ecosystem. In real conditions, the limiting nutrient, which determines the possible growth of harmful algal bloom, is usually phosphorus. Algicides or flocculants have been applied in the eutrophicated waterbody in order to reduce the phytoplankton growth, which leads to the introduction of toxic chemicals into the water. In our laboratory, the idea of the prevention of harmful phytoplankton growth by the intentional cultivation of non-toxic cyanobacteria Tolypothrix tenuis in semi-open floating photobioreactors directly on the surface of phosphorus-rich waterbody is examined. During the process of cultivation, redundant phosphorus is incorporated into cyanobacterial biomass, which can be subsequently used for the production of biofuels, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, or biostimulants for agricultural use. To determine the ability of phosphorus incorporation, batch-cultivation of Tolypothrix biomass in media simulating eutrophic water (10% BG medium) and in effluent from municipal wastewater treatment plant, both with the initial phosphorus concentration in the range 0.5-1.0 mgP/L was performed in laboratory-scale models of floating photobioreactors. After few hours of cultivation, the phosphorus content was decreased below the target limit of 0.035 mgP/L, which was given as a borderline for the algal bloom formation. Under laboratory conditions, the effect of several parameters on the rate of phosphorus decrease was tested (illumination, temperature, stirring speed/aeration gas flow, biomass to medium ratio). Based on the obtained results, a bench-scale floating photobioreactor was designed and will be tested for Tolypothrix growth in real conditions. It was proved that intentional cultivation of cyanobacteria Tolypothrix could be a suitable approach for extracting redundant phosphorus from eutrophic waters as prevention of algal bloom formation.

Keywords: cyanobacteria, eutrophication, floating photobioreactor, Tolypothrix

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7 Nutrient Removal and Microalgal Biomass Growth of Chlorella Vulgaris in Response to Centrate Wastewater Loadings

Authors: Lingfeng Wang, Zhipeng Chen, Shuang Qiu, Shijian Ge


The effects of wastewater, with four different nutrient loadings, from synthetic centrate on biomass production of Chlorella vulgaris, nutrient removal, microalgal settling, and lipid production were investigated in photobioreactors under both batches and, subsequently, semi-continuous operations. At higher centrate concentration factors (17.2% and 36.2%), hydraulic retention time and pH adjustments could be employed to sustain acceptable microalgal growth rates and wastewater treatment. Similar nutrient removals efficiencies (>95%) and biomass production (0.42-0.51 g/L) were observed for the four centrate concentrations. Both the lipid productivity and lipid content decreased with increasing nutrient loading in the wastewater. The results also demonstrated that the mass ratio of carbohydrate to protein could provide a good indication of microalgal settling performance, rather than sole component composition or total extracellular polymeric substances.

Keywords: lipid production, microalgae, nutrient removal, wastewater

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6 Design of Wireless and Traceable Sensors for Internally Illuminated Photoreactors

Authors: Alexander Sutor, David Demetz


We present methods for developing wireless and traceable sensors for photobioreactors or photoreactors in general. The main focus of application are reactors which are wirelessly powered. Due to the promising properties of the propagation of magnetic fields under water we implemented an inductive link with an on/off switched hartley-oscillator as transmitter and an LC-tank as receiver. For this inductive link we used a carrier frequency of 298 kHz. With this system we performed measurements to demonstrate the independence of the magnetic field from water or salty water. In contrast we showed the strongly reduced range of RF-transmitter-receiver systems at higher frequencies (433 MHz and 2.4 GHz) in water and in salty water. For implementing the traceability of the sensors, we performed measurements to show the well defined orientation of the magnetic field of a coil. This information will be used in future work for implementing an inductive link based traceability system for our sensors.

Keywords: wireless sensors, photoreactor, internal illumination, wireless power

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5 Mass Production of Endemic Diatoms in Polk County, Florida Concomitant with Biofuel Extraction

Authors: Melba D. Horton


Algae are identified as an alternative source of biofuel because of their ubiquitous distribution in aquatic environments. Diatoms are unique forms of algae characterized by silicified cell walls which have gained prominence in various technological applications. Polk County is home to a multitude of ponds and lakes but has not been explored for the presence of diatoms. Considering the condition of the waters brought about by predominant phosphate mining activities in the area, this research was conducted to determine if endemic diatoms are present and explore their potential for low-cost mass production. Using custom-built photobioreactors, water samples from various lakes provided by the Polk County Parks and Recreation and from nearby ponds were used as the source of diatoms together with other algae obtained during collection. Results of the initial culture cycles were successful, but later an overgrowth of other algae crashed the diatom population. Experiments were conducted in the laboratory to tease out some factors possibly contributing to the die-off. Generally, the total biomass declines after two culture cycles and the causative factors need further investigation. The lipid yield is minimum; however, the high frustule production after die-off adds value to the overall benefit of the harvest.

Keywords: diatoms, algae, biofuel, lipid, photobioreactor, frustule

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4 Maximizing Nitrate Absorption of Agricultural Waste Water in a Tubular Microalgae Reactor by Adapting the Illumination Spectrum

Authors: J. Martin, A. Dannenberg, G. Detrell, R. Ewald, S. Fasoulas


Microalgae-based photobioreactors (PBR) for Life Support Systems (LSS) are currently being investigated for future space missions such as a crewed base on planets or moons. Biological components may help reducing resupply masses by closing material mass flows with the help of regenerative components. Via photosynthesis, the microalgae use CO2, water, light and nutrients to provide oxygen and biomass for the astronauts. These capabilities could have synergies with Earth applications that tackle current problems and the developed technologies can be transferred. For example, a current worldwide discussed issue is the increased nitrate and phosphate pollution of ground water from agricultural waste waters. To investigate the potential use of a biological system based on the ability of the microalgae to extract and use nitrate and phosphate for the treatment of polluted ground water from agricultural applications, a scalable test stand is being developed. This test stand investigates the maximization of intake rates of nitrate and quantifies the produced biomass and oxygen. To minimize the required energy, for the uptake of nitrate from artificial waste water (AWW) the Flashing Light Effect (FLE) and the adaption of the illumination spectrum were realized. This paper describes the composition of the AWW, the development of the illumination unit and the possibility of non-invasive process optimization and control via the adaption of the illumination spectrum and illumination cycles. The findings were a doubling of the energy related growth rate by adapting the illumination setting.

Keywords: microalgae, illumination, nitrate uptake, flashing light effect

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3 Identification of the Microalgae Species in a Wild Mix Culture Acclimated to Landfill Leachate and Ammonia Removal Performances in a Microbubble Assisted Photobioreactor

Authors: Neslihan Ozman Say, Jim Gilmour, Pratik Desai, William Zimmerman


Landfill leachate treatment has been attracting researchers recently for various environmental and economical reasons. Leachate discharge to receiving waterbodies without treatment causes serious detrimental effects including partial oxygen depletion due to high biological oxygen demand (BOD) and chemical oxygen demand (COD) concentrations besides toxicity of heavy metals it contains and high ammonia concentrations. In this study, it is aimed to show microalgal ammonia removal performances of a wild microalgae consortia as an alternative treatment method and determine the dominant leachate tolerant species for this consortia. For the microalgae species identification experiments a microalgal consortium which has been isolated from a local pond in Sheffield inoculated in %5 diluted raw landfill leachate and acclimated to the leachate by batch feeding for a month. In order to determine the most tolerant microalgal consortium, four different untreated landfill leachate samples have been used as diluted in four different ratios as 5%, 10%, 20%, and 40%. Microalgae cell samples have been collected from all experiment sets and have been examined by using 18S rDNA sequencing and specialised gel electrophoresis which are adapted molecular biodiversity methods. The best leachate tolerant algal consortium is being used in order to determine ammonia removal performances of the culture in a microbubble assisted photobioreactor (PBR). A porous microbubble diffuser which is supported by a fluidic oscillator is being used for dosing CO₂ and air mixture in the PBR. It is known that high mass transfer performance of microbubble technology provides a better removal efficiency and a better mixing in the photobioreactor. Ammonia concentrations and microalgal growth are being monitored for PBR currently. It is aimed to present all the results of the study in final paper submission.

Keywords: ammonia removal from leachate, landfill leachate treatment, microalgae species identification, microbubble assisted photobioreactors

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2 A Diurnal Light Based CO₂ Elevation Strategy for Up-Scaling Chlorella sp. Production by Minimizing Oxygen Accumulation

Authors: Venkateswara R. Naira, Debasish Das, Soumen K. Maiti


Achieving high cell densities of microalgae under obligatory light-limiting and high light conditions of diurnal (low-high-low variations of daylight intensity) sunlight are further limited by CO₂ supply and dissolved oxygen (DO) accumulation in large-scale photobioreactors. High DO levels cause low growth due to photoinhibition and/or photorespiration. Hence, scalable elevated CO₂ levels (% in air) and their effect on DO accumulation in a 10 L cylindrical membrane photobioreactor (a vertical tubular type) are studied in the present study. The CO₂ elevation strategies; biomass-based, pH control based (types II & I) and diurnal light based, were explored to study the growth of Chlorella sp. FC2 IITG under single-sided LED lighting in the laboratory, mimicking diurnal sunlight. All the experiments were conducted in fed-batch mode by maintaining N and P sources at least 50% of initial concentrations of the optimized BG-11 medium. It was observed that biomass-based (2% - 1st day, 2.5% - 2nd day and 3% - thereafter) and well-known pH control based, type-I (5.8 pH throughout) strategies were found lethal for FC2 growth. In both strategies, the highest peak DO accumulation of 150% air saturation was resulted due to high photosynthetic activity caused by higher CO₂ levels. In the pH control based type-I strategy, automatically resulted CO₂ levels for pH control were recorded so high (beyond the inhibition range, 5%). However, pH control based type-II strategy (5.8 – 2 days, 6.3 – 3 days, 6.7 – thereafter) showed final biomass titer up to 4.45 ± 0.05 g L⁻¹ with peak DO of 122% air saturation; high CO₂ levels beyond 5% (in air) were recorded thereafter. Thus, it became sustainable for obtaining high biomass. Finally, a diurnal light based (2% - low light, 2.5 % - medium light and 3% - high light) strategy was applied on the basis of increasing/decreasing photosynthesis due to increase/decrease in diurnal light intensity. It has resulted in maximum final biomass titer of 5.33 ± 0.12 g L⁻¹, with total biomass productivity of 0.59 ± 0.01 g L⁻¹ day⁻¹. The values are remarkably higher than constant 2% CO₂ level (final biomass titer: 4.26 ± 0.09 g L⁻¹; biomass productivity: 0.27 ± 0.005 g L⁻¹ day⁻¹). However, 135% air saturation of peak DO was observed. Thus, the diurnal light based elevation should be further improved by using CO₂ enriched N₂ instead of air. To the best of knowledge, the light-based CO₂ elevation strategy is not reported elsewhere.

Keywords: Chlorella sp., CO₂ elevation strategy, dissolved oxygen accumulation, diurnal light based CO₂ elevation, high cell density, microalgae, scale-up

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1 Microalgae Technology for Nutraceuticals

Authors: Weixing Tan


Production of nutraceuticals from microalgae—a virtually untapped natural phyto-based source of which there are 200,000 to 1,000,000 species—offers a sustainable and healthy alternative to conventionally sourced nutraceuticals for the market. Microalgae can be grown organically using only natural sunlight, water and nutrients at an extremely fast rate, e.g. 10-100 times more efficiently than crops or trees. However, the commercial success of microalgae products at scale remains limited largely due to the lack of economically viable technologies. There are two major microalgae production systems or technologies currently available: 1) the open system as represented by open pond technology and 2) the closed system such as photobioreactors (PBR). Each carries its own unique features and challenges. Although an open system requires a lower initial capital investment relative to a PBR, it conveys many unavoidable drawbacks; for example, much lower productivity, difficulty in contamination control/cleaning, inconsistent product quality, inconvenience in automation, restriction in location selection, and unsuitability for cold areas – all directly linked to the system openness and flat underground design. On the other hand, a PBR system has characteristics almost entirely opposite to the open system, such as higher initial capital investment, better productivity, better contamination and environmental control, wider suitability in different climates, ease in automation, higher and consistent product quality, higher energy demand (particularly if using artificial lights), and variable operational expenses if not automated. Although closed systems like PBRs are not highly competitive yet in current nutraceutical supply market, technological advances can be made, in particular for the PBR technology, to narrow the gap significantly. One example is a readily scalable P2P Microalgae PBR Technology at Grande Prairie Regional College, Canada, developed over 11 years considering return on investment (ROI) for key production processes. The P2P PBR system is approaching economic viability at a pre-commercial stage due to five ROI-integrated major components. They include: (1) optimum use of free sunlight through attenuation (patented); (2) simple, economical, and chemical-free harvesting (patent ready to file); (3) optimum pH- and nutrient-balanced culture medium (published), (4) reliable water and nutrient recycling system (trade secret); and (5) low-cost automated system design (trade secret). These innovations have allowed P2P Microalgae Technology to increase daily yield to 106 g/m2/day of Chlorella vulgaris, which contains 50% proteins and 2-3% omega-3. Based on the current market prices and scale-up factors, this P2P PBR system presents as a promising microalgae technology for market competitive nutraceutical supply.

Keywords: microalgae technology, nutraceuticals, open pond, photobioreactor PBR, return on investment ROI, technological advances

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