Efficient microalgae removal from aqueous medium through auto-flocculation: investigating growth-dependent role of organic matter
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This study investigated the growth-dependent role of algal organic matters (AOMs) to achieve high removal efficiency (R.E) of microalgae. The results showed that the microalgae cells produced 96 ± 2% of total AOMs as loose bound AOMSS (LB-AOMs) and 4 ± 1% as cell-bound (CB-AOMs) in exponential phase. In stationary phase, LB-AOMs and CB-AOMs were 46 ± 0.7percentage and 54 ± 0.2 percentage, respectively. The R.Es in exponential and stationary phase were 83 ± 2.6% and 66 ± 1.2%, respectively. It is found that the difference of biomass concentration (between exponential and stationary phase) had no significant impact on the R.E (P > 0.01). Further investigations revealed that LB-AOMs inhibit flocculation in exponential and CB-AOMs in stationary phase; however, CB-AOMs showed stronger inhibition than the LB-AOMs (P < 0.01). The provision of calcium (17 ± 0.9 mg/L) to the culture reduced the AOMs inhibition and improved the R.E from 66 ± 1.2% (in control) to 90 ± 4.2%. An increase in R.E was attributed to the interaction of calcium with AOMs and subsequently acting as a flocculant. The findings of this study can be valuable to improve the performance of auto-flocculation technology, which is mainly limited by the presence of AOMs.
KeywordsAuto-flocculation Organic matter Microalgae growth Removal efficiency Calcium interaction
This work was supported by the Advanced Biomass R&D Center (ABC) of the Global Frontier Project, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (ABC-2010-0029728).
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Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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