Microalgae and Wastewaters: From Ecotoxicological Interactions to Produce a Carbohydrate-Rich Biomass Towards Biofuel Application

  • Carlos Eduardo de Farias SilvaEmail author
  • Raphaella Barbosa de Oliveira Cerqueira
  • Cenira Monteiro de Carvalho
  • Frede Oliveira de Carvalho
  • Josealdo Tonholo


The demand for clean water is a current worldwide priority. Moreover, bioenergy production should be significantly developed to compete with the cost of energy production from other sources, especially petroleum-based fuel. Therefore, the combination between wastewater treatment – algae – and biofuel production could represent an important alternative to nutrient recovery and valorisation of the biomass produced. In microalgal cultivation, the main expenditure would have to cover the costs of the greater amount of water, nutrient supplement and additional illumination required for high biomass production, besides the conversion step. Traditional wastewater treatment (such as activated sludge) has as bottlenecks the elevated cost of air injection in the aerobic step, necessity of denitrification and the usually inefficient phosphorous removal. On the other hand, microalgae/cyanobacteria can efficiently remove nitrogen, phosphorous and organic matter. Nonetheless, for this, it is necessary to efficiently activate the mixotrophy pathway in these microorganisms, which is the target of several studies, as growth inhibition can easily occur, i.e. the depurative capacity is limited. This chapter will discuss the importance of mixotrophy for photosynthetic microorganisms and demonstrate the main results present in the scientific literature to produce carbohydrate from wastewater and how it can be used to produce biofuels.


Ecotoxicology Biological treatment Biological contaminant removal Carbohydrate accumulation 



C.E. De Farias Silva would like to thank the CNPq (Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development) for the Postdoctoral Fellowship and financial support. Project numbers: 167490/2017-6 and 407274/2018-9. C. M. Carvalho also thank the fellowship granted by PNPD/PPGQB/CAPES (Selection 2017.2). The institutional and financial support of CNPq, CAPES, FINEP, UFAL and FAPEAL were of great importance to the research development discussed in this chapter.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Eduardo de Farias Silva
    • 1
    Email author
  • Raphaella Barbosa de Oliveira Cerqueira
    • 1
  • Cenira Monteiro de Carvalho
    • 1
  • Frede Oliveira de Carvalho
    • 2
  • Josealdo Tonholo
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Applied ElectrochemistryInstitute of Chemistry and Biotechnology, University of AlagoasMaceióBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratory of Applied Intelligent Systems, Center of TechnologyUniversity of AlagoasMaceióBrazil

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