Cultivation and harvesting of microalgae in photobioreactor for biodiesel production and simultaneous nutrient removal

Il Seung Yang, El Sayed Salama, Jong Oh Kim, Sanjay P. Govindwar, Mayur B. Kurade, Minsun Lee, Hyun Seog Roh, Byong Hun Jeon

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91 Citations (Scopus)


Microalgae, Chlorella vulgaris and Scenedesmus obliquus were cultivated in a small scale vertical flat-plate photobioreactor (PBR) supplemented with municipal wastewater in order to achieve simultaneous wastewater treatment and biomass production for biofuel generation. Microalgal growth and nutrient removal including total nitrogen (TN), total phosphorus (TP), total inorganic carbon (TIC) and trace elements (Ca2+, Na+, Mg2+ and Zn2+) were monitored during microalgae cultivation. C. vulgaris and S. obliquus showed optimal specific growth rates (μopt) of 1.39 and 1.41 day-1, respectively, and the TN and TP were completely removed (>99%) from the wastewater within 8 days. Microalgal biomass in the PBR was harvested using a natural flocculant produced from Moringa oleifera seeds. The harvesting efficiency of M. oleifera was 81% for C. vulgaris and 92% for S. obliquus. The amounts of saturated, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated fatty acids in the harvested biomass accounted for 18.66%, 71.61% and 9.75% for C. vulgaris and 28.67%, 57.14% and 11.15% for S. obliquus, respectively. The accumulated fatty acids were suitable to produce high quality biodiesel with characteristics equivalent to crop seeds oil-derived biodiesel. This study demonstrates the potential of microalgae-based biodiesel production through the coupling of advanced wastewater treatment with microalgae cultivation for low-cost biomass production in a PBR.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-62
Number of pages9
JournalEnergy Conversion and Management
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Jun 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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