BIO_ALGAE 2: improved model of microalgae and bacteria consortia for wastewater treatment

  • Alessandro SolimenoEmail author
  • Cintia Gómez-Serrano
  • Francisco Gabriel Acién
Research Article


A new set up of the integral mechanistic BIO_ALGAE model that describes the complex interactions in mixed algal-bacterial systems was developed to overcome some restrictions of the model. BIO_ALGAE 2 includes new sub-models that take into account the variation of microalgae and bacteria performance as a function of culture conditions prevailing in microalgae cultures (pH, temperature, dissolved oxygen) over daily and seasonal cycles and the implementation of on-demand dioxide carbon injection for pH control. Moreover, another aim of this work was to study a correlation between the mass transfer coefficient and the hydrodynamics of reactor. The model was calibrated using real data from a laboratory reactor fed with real wastewater. Moreover, the model was used to simulate daily variations of different components in the pond (dissolved oxygen, pH, and CO2 injection) and to predict microalgae (XALG) and bacteria (XH) proportions and to estimate daily biomass production (Cb). The effect of CO2 injection and the influence of wastewater composition on treatment performance were investigated through practical study cases. XALG decreased by 38%, and XH increased by 35% with respect to the system under pH control while microalgae and bacteria proportions are completely different as a function of influent wastewater composition. Model simulations have indicated that Cb production (~ 100 gTSS m−3 day−1 for manure and centrate) resulted lower than Cb production obtained using primary influent wastewater (155 gTSS m−3 day−1).


Microalgae Bacteria Wastewater treatment Nitrogen removal Phosphorus removal 



The authors thank the GEMMA group of Technical University of Catalonia (UPC) for providing COMSOL Multiphysics license.


This work was supported by Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (EDARSOL, CTQ2014-57293-C3-1-R) and by European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation program through the project SABANA (Grant Agreement No. 727874).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

11356_2019_5824_MOESM1_ESM.docx (148 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 148 kb)


  1. Acien F, Fernández Sevilla JM, Molina Grima E (2013) Photobioreactors for the production of microalgae. Environ Sci Biotechnol 12(2):131–151CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Acien F, Gómez Serrano C, Morales Amaral MM, Fernández Sevilla JM, Molina Grima E (2016) Wastewater treatment using microalgae: how realistic a contribution might it be to significant urban wastewater treatment? Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 100(21):9013–9022CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Avoz Y, Goldman JC 1982. Free ammonia inhibition of algal photosynthesis in intensive culture. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 43, 735–739.Google Scholar
  4. Bernard O, Rémond B (2012) Validation of a simple model accounting for light and temperature effect on microalgal growth. Bioresour Technol 123:520–527CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bisutti I, Hilke I, Raessler M (2004) Determination of total organic carbon – an overview of current methods. Trends Anal Chem 23:10–11CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bouterfas R, Belkoura M, Dauta A (2002) Light and temperature effects on the growth rate of three freshwater algae isolated from a eutrophic lake. Hydrobiologia 489(1–3):207–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brennan L, Owende P (2010) Biofuels from microalgae—a review of technologies for production, processing, and extractions of biofuels and co-products. Renew Sust Energ Rev 14(2):557–577CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buhr HO, Miller SB (1983) A dynamic model of the high-rate algal bacterial wastewater treatment pond. Water Res 17:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chisti Y (2007) Biodiesel from microalgae. Biotechnol Adv 25(3):294–306CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Costache TA, Fernández FGA (2013) Comprehensive model of microalgae photosynthesis rate as a function of culture conditions in photobioreactors. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 97(17):7627–7637CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Craggs R, Lundquist TJ, Benemann JR (2013) Wastewater treatment and algal biofuel production. Algae for biofuels and energy. Springer, New York, pp. 153–163Google Scholar
  12. El Halouani H, Picot B, Casellas C, Pena G, Bontoux J (1993) Elimination de l’azote et du phosphore dans un lagunage à haut rendement. Revue des Sciences de l’Eau 6:47–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Fernández I, Acién FG, Berenguel M, Guzmán JL, Andrade GA, Pagano DJ (2014) A lumped parameter chemical-physical model for tubular photobioreactors. Chem Eng Sci 112:116–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Frank MJW, Kuipers JAM, van Swaaij WPM (1996) Diffusion coefficients and viscosities of CO2 + H2O, CO2 + CH3OH, NH3 + H2O, and NH3 + CH3OH liquid mixtures. J Chem Eng Data 41(2):297–302. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. García J, Mujeriego R, Hernández Mariné M (2000) High rate algal pond operating strategies for urban wastewater nitrogen removal. J Appl Phycol 12:331–339CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. García J, Green BF, Lundquist T, Mujeriego R, Hernández-Mariné M, Oswald WJ (2006) Long term diurnal variations in contaminant removal in high rate ponds treating urban wastewater. Bioresour Technol 97:1709–1715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gujer W, Henze M, Mino T, Van Loosdrecht M (1999) Activated sludge model no. 3. Water Sci Technol 39(1):183–193CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Henze M, Gujer W, Mino T, van Loosdrecht M (2000) Activated sludge models ASM1, ASM2, ASM2d and ASM3. IWA Scientific and Technical Report n. 9, IWA Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  19. Khorsandi H, Alizadeh R, Tosinejad H, Porghaffar H (2014) Analysis of nitrogenous and algal oxygen demand in effluent from a system of aerated lagoons followed by polishing pond. Water Sci Technol 70(1):95–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Krasnits E, Friedler E, Sabbah I, Beliavski M, Tarre S, Green M (2009) Spatial distribution of major microbial groups in a well-established constructed wetland treating municipal wastewater. Ecol Eng 35(7):1085–1089CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Laliberte G, Lessard P, Delanoue J, Sylvestre S (1997) Effect of phosphorus addition on nutrient removal from wastewater with the cyanobacterium Phormidium bohneri. Bioresour Technol 59:227–233CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Langergraber G, Rousseau D, García J, Mena J (2009) CWM1: a general model to describe biokinetic processes in subsurface flow constructed wetlands. Water Sci Technol 59(9):1687–1697CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Larsdotter K (2006) Wastewater treatment with microalgae-a literature review. Vatten:31–38Google Scholar
  24. Lundquist TJ, Woertz IC, Quinn NWT, Benemann JR (2010) A realistic technological and economic assessment of algae biofuels. Report prepared for the BP Energy Biosciences Institute, Berkeley, California, p 154Google Scholar
  25. Molina Grima E, García Camacho F, Sánchez Pérez JA, Fernández Sevilla J, Acíen Fernandez FG, Contreras Gómez A (1994) A mathematical model of microalgae growth in light limited chemostat cultures. J Chem Technol Biotechnol 61:167–173CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Novak JT, Brune DE (1985) Inorganic carbon limited growth kinetics of some freshwater algae. Water Res 19:215–225CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Oswald WJ (1988) Microalgal biotechnology. Borowitzka, M.A., Borowitzka, L.J (eds). Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  28. Park JBK, Craggs RJ (2010) Wastewater treatment and algal production in high rate algal ponds with carbon dioxide addition. Water Sci Technol 61(3):633–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Park JBK, Craggs RJ, Shilton AN (2011) Wastewater treatment high rate algal ponds for biofuel production. Bioresour Technol 102:35–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Pereira R, Yarish C, Sousa-Pinto I (2006) The influence of stocking density, light and temperature on the growth, production and nutrient removal capacity of Porphyra dioica (Bangiales, Rhodophyta). Aquaculture 252:66–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Posadas E, Morales M, Gomez C, Acién FG, Muñoz R (2014) Influence of pH and CO2 source on the performance of microalgae based secondary domestic wastewater treatment in outdoors pilot raceways. Chem Eng J 265:239–248CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Reichert P, Borchardt D, Henze M, Rauch W, Shanahan P, Somlyódy L, Vanrolleghem P (2001) River water quality model no. 1 (RWQM1): II. Biochemical process equations. Water Sci Technol : J Int Assoc Water Pollut Res 43(5):11–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Rice EW, Baird RB, Eaton AD 2017Standard methods for the examination of water and wastewater, 23rd Edition. American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation,Google Scholar
  34. Sah L, Rousseau D, Hooijmans CM, Lens P (2011) 3D model for a secondary facultative pond. Ecol Model 222(9):1592–1603CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sams R, García J (2013) Bacteria distribution and dynamics in constructed wetlands based on modelling results. Sci Total Environ 461–462:430–440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Sánchez JF, Fernández JM, Acién FG, Rueda A, Pérez J, Molina E (2008) Influence of culture conditions on the productivity and lutein content of the new strain Scenedesmus almeriensis. Process Biochem 43:398–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Saunders BK, Giskle MP (1997) The effects of temperature and light on two algal populations in the temperate sea anemone Anthopleura elegantissima (Brandt, 1835). J Exp Mar Biol Ecol 211:213–224CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Shelef G, Moraine R, Oron G (1982) Nutrients removal and recovery in a two-stage high rate algal wastewater treatment system. Water Sci Technol 14:87–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Silyn-Roberts G, Lewis G (2001) In situ analysis of Nitrosomonas sp. in wastewater treatment wetland biofilms. Water Res 35:2731–2739CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Singh SP, Singh P (2015) Effect of temperature and light on the growth of algae species: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 50:431–444CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Solimeno A, García J (2017) Microalgae-bacteria models evolution: from microalgae steady-state to integrated microalgae-bacteria wastewater treatment models – a comparative review. Sci Total Environ 607–608:1136–1150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Solimeno A, García J (2019) Microalgae and bacteria dynamics in high rate algal ponds based on modelling results: long-term application of BIO_ALGAE model. Sci Total Environ 650:1818–1831CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Solimeno A, Samsó R, Uggetti E, Sialve B, Steyer JP, Gabarró A, García J (2015) New mechanistic model to simulate microalgae growth. Algal Res 12:350–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Solimeno A, Samsó R, García J (2016) Parameter sensitivity analysis of a mechanistic model to simulate microalgae growth. Algal Res 15:217–223CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Solimeno A, Parker L, Lundquist T, García J (2017a) Integral microalgae-bacteria model (BIO_ALGAE): application to wastewater high rate algal ponds. Sci Total Environ 601-601:646–657CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Solimeno A, Acién FG, García J (2017b) Mechanistic model for design, analysis, operation and control of microalgae cultures: calibration and application to tubular photobioreactors. Algal Res 21:236–246CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Spolaore P, Joannis-Cassan C, Duran E, Isambert A (2006) Commercial applications of microalgae. Biosci Bioeng 101:87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Suganya T, Varman M, Masjuki HH, Renganathan S (2016) Macroalgae and microalgae as a potential source for commercial applications along with biofuels production: a biorefinery approach. Renew Sust Energ Rev 55:909–941CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Sutherland D, Turnbull M, Matthew H, Broady P, Craggs RJ (2014) Effects of two different nutrient loads on microalgal production, nutrient removal and photosynthetic efficiency in pilot-scale wastewater high rate algal ponds. Water Res 66:53–62CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Talbot P, Thebault JM, Dauta A, de la Nou J (1991) A comparative study and mathematical modeling of temperature, light and growth of three microalgae potentially useful for wastewater treatment. Water Res 25(4):465–472CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Von Sperling M (2007) Waste stabilization ponds. IWA Publishing, LondonGoogle Scholar
  52. Wu X, Merchuk J (2001) A model integrating fluid dynamics in photosynthesis and photoinhibition processes. Chem Eng Sci 56:3527–3538CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringUniversity of AlmeríaAlmeriaSpain

Personalised recommendations