Self-flocculation of enriched mixed microalgae culture in a sequencing batch reactor

Abstract

Microalgae-based biodiesel has gained widespread interest as an alternative energy source. Low-cost microalgae harvesting technologies are important for economically feasible biodiesel production. This study investigated, for the first time, the impact of adaptation period and height to diameter (H/D) ratio of a reactor on the growth and self-flocculation of microalgae, without the addition of bacteria. Six reactors were grouped into three sets of experiments, and each reactor was operated for 30 days at similar operating conditions (volume exchange ratio = 25% and settling time = 30 min). In set 1, two 8-L reactors, H5a (H/D ratio: 5) and H8a (H/D ratio: 8), were operated under batch operation. In set 2, reactors H5b and H8b were operated as sequential batch reactors (SBRs) without an adaptation period. In set 3, the reactors H5c and H8c were operated as SBRs with an adaptation period. The findings showed a threefold improvement in biomass productivity for the higher H/D ratio (H8c) and a reduction in biomass loss for microalgae. The H8c reactor exhibited 95% settling efficiency within 5 days, in comparison to 30 days for the H5c reactor. This study demonstrated that a higher H/D ratio and the introduction of an adaptation period in SBR operation positively influences growth and self-flocculation of enriched mixed microalgae culture.

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Data availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

This research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia, through the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) 6071446. The first author would also like to thank Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA), Malaysia, for providing scholarships.

Funding

This research was supported by the Ministry of Education, Malaysia, through the Fundamental Research Grant Scheme (FRGS) 6071446.

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SG performed the experimental work, collected the data, analyzed the data, and prepared the manuscript. KG analyzed the data, and read and altered the manuscript. KTL analyzed the data, and read and altered the manuscript. VV analyzed the data, and prepared the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Vel Vadivelu.

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Gobi, S., Gobi, K., Lee, K.T. et al. Self-flocculation of enriched mixed microalgae culture in a sequencing batch reactor. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-021-12615-4

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Keywords

  • Hydraulic attrition
  • Height to diameter ratio
  • Adaptation period
  • Settleability
  • Extracellular polymeric substances
  • Microalgae harvesting
  • Denser microalgae