The Los Alamos Reporter highlights new research by New Mexico Consortium scientist, Joseph Msanne, along with colleagues Shawn Starkenburg and Juergen Polle, that looks at whether growing algae for biofuels using wastewater from different sources can lead to a higher end lipid content in the algae. Their research was recently published in an article titled An Assessment of Heterotrophy and Mixotrophy in Scenedesmus and its Utilization in Wastewater Treatment, in the June 2020 issue of Algal Research.
The researchers looked at wastewater from different sources including municipal wastewater, urban stormwater ponds and food wastewater. All of these types of wastewater contain various macro and micronutrients essential for growth. The research paper summarizes previous efforts to grow the microalgae Scenedesmus sp. in different wastewater sources and gives the results of the effectiveness of nutrient and organic substrate removal, CO2 mitigation, and resulting biomass productivities.
Their findings show that several microalgae, including Scenedesmus sp., can switch between photoautotrophic and mixotrophic growth by utilizing organic compounds that are often found in wastewater. This means there is great potential for using wastewater in commercial biofuel production. Integrating microalgae biomass production with wastewater treatment would lead to optimizing algal biomass productivity and have great environmental impacts by significantly reducing pollution and eutrophication risks.
The results of this study are promising. This review shows that industrial-scale production of algal biomass using wastewater — rich with organic matter — would provide cost-effective growth conditions that would greatly benefit biofuel feedstock production.
At DQS, our team is proudly working on the new approaches for utilizing micro-algae in solving the problems of the future. We are continuously exploring the new ways to maximizing the effectiveness of our processes and technologies.