Wastewater treatment by micro-algae coupled with bio-fuel production
Water and fuel are precious resources. Efforts must be made to be able to obtain both by sustainable means, such as combining wastewater treatment and biodiesel production using microalgae. The goals of this study are to determine whether: the model fresh water species, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, can survive and grow in wastewater and produce biomass compared to local strains growing at a local wastewater treatment facility, to determine which group of species is more efficient at removing nutrients from the water, and to determine if the wastewater species (Eudorina , Chlorococcum, Fischerella) can be used to feasibly produce biodiesel. Six 4 liter plastic tanks filled with artificial wastewater were inoculated with culture and tested every other day for biomass production and nutrient content of the wastewater. The algae were then harvested. Neither algae strain was found to have a significant difference between their fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) production. However, there was a significant difference in the efficiency of nutrient removal and biomass production. The wild strains from the wastewater treatment plant removed more phosphorus than the freshwater species C. reinhardtii. The wastewater species also produced more biomass than C.reinhardtii. Both measures were found to be statistically significant. Neither species produced enough lipids to be viable to commercial use in creating biodiesel, but natural occurring algae could have other potential uses such as production of biodegradable plastics.