Wastewater treatment using ecological and sustainable algae

Human indiscipline and greed greatly affect the availability and quality of fresh water. Finding new approaches to sustainably preserve the freshwater supply has become a global priority.

Using a new strain of algae, scientists have developed an environmentally friendly way to purify wastewater. Image credit: Shoolini University.

The incredible potential of algae to remove large amounts of chemical pollutants and various bacteria from water has prompted researchers to create a new environmentally friendly, sustainable and economical solution for urban wastewater treatment. They tested the effectiveness of this treated water for fish farming.

The ever-increasing human demand for freshwater has led to a rapid depletion of its sources, and researchers have tried to find approaches to clean up wastewater for reuse to meet future demands.

Now, the most common wastewater treatment methods require the use of chemicals or UV radiation to destroy microorganisms or remove pollutants. However, these conventional methods have several drawbacks, such as the lethal effects of chemicals on human health or the high energy requirements to operate the processing units.

To develop a sustainable wastewater treatment system, the focus has shifted to environmentally friendly and economical technologies. One of these technologies being studied involves the use of aquatic microorganisms, such as algae, which would be able to break down complex molecules.

A team of researchers led by Dr Pankaj Kumar Chauhan from Shoolini University, India, has created a wastewater treatment technology based on algal bioremediation. Their study is published in Total environmental science.

The researchers were from India (Faculty of Applied Sciences and Biotechnology, Shoolini University; Algae and Bioenergy Research Laboratory, University of Uttaranchal; and Department of Biotechnology, Dolphin Institute of Biomedical and Natural Sciences (PG)) , Russia (Joint Institute for High Temperature of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Department of Environmental Monitoring and Forecasting, RUDN University), and Korea (Department of Environmental Engineering, Seoul University).

Algae quickly cover bodies of water with a green film or cause red tides, using nitrogen, phosphorus, carbon or heavy metals in the water as food. A large amount of algae in the water then creates competition for sunlight and nutrients with other microorganisms, causing the number of bacteria in the water to decrease.

These are some of the properties that make algae a potential wastewater purification agent. In addition, they are also self-contained, environmentally friendly and economical as a wastewater treatment agent.

We have selected a new strain of the microalgae Pseudochlorella pringsheimii because it can tolerate a high pollutant load and can grow over a wide temperature range. In addition, under stressful conditions, Pseudochlorellae are known to accumulate large amounts of lipids in their cells, opening up the possibility of using this algal biomass for the synthesis of biofuels..

Dr Pankaj Kumar Chauhan, Study Leader, Shoolini University

To carry out the experiments, the Pseudochlorella pringsheimii Microalgae strain was collected from a natural pond and cultivated by scientists in artificial reservoirs of raw urban wastewater, which contained antibiotic resistant bacteria and many heavy metal pollutants.

After 14 days of culture, they measured three parameters in these tanks: the growth and the biochemical composition of the P. pringsheimii and water quality. They also measured the prospect of using water treated with microalgae for fish farming.

The results of this pilot study were very encouraging. P. pringsheimii cultivation has dramatically improved water quality by removing heavy metals and toxic microorganisms.

After the treatment, we observed that the levels of water pollution indicators such as chemical oxygen demand (COD), alkalinity and hardness decreased by 83.2%, 66.7% and 69 , 6%, respectively..

Dr Pankaj Kumar Chauhan, Study Leader, Shoolini University

In addition, the growth of algae has almost naturally eliminated all bacteria and coliforms in the water. We also observed a significant increase in the lipid content of the algal biomass cultivated in the wastewater compared to the algae cultivated in the control medium. This means that this algae can be recycled for the synthesis of biofuel.Added Dr Chauhan.

In addition, suckers did not last in raw sewage, but in treated sewage, 84% of them not only survived more than 10 days, but their body weight also increased by 47%.

This new technology is therefore a remarkable success in research on the treatment of green wastewater and has demonstrated the relevance of using treated water for profitable fish farming. Dr Chauhan is convinced that their microalgae-based bioremediation method will pave the way for a greener and greener future.

Journal reference:

Kumar, V., et al. (2021) Sustainable algae-based approach for the simultaneous removal of micropollutants and bacteria from urban wastewater and their real-time reuse for aquaculture. Total environmental science. doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2021.145556.

Source: https://shooliniuniversity.com

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