Transitioning Benefits of Algal Growth to Non Potable Water Sources

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Journal/Book Title/Conference

USU Student Showcase

Publication Date


Faculty Mentor

Ronald Sims


The benefits of controlled algae growth are well documented. Algal biomass uses are numerous including: biofuels, bioremediation, medicine, and other bioproducts. Currently algae are largely grown in fresh water. The ability to culture algae in non potable water would allow for the benefits of algal production without using water suitable for direct human use. Two largely available sources of non potable water are produced water (coal bed methane wastewater) and seawater. In this study, one liter pilot scale Rotating Algal Biofilm Reactors (RABR) were used as the bioreactor platform to grow cyanobacterial biofilms utilizing these non potable water sources. RABR culture was used opposed to suspended culture to increase the solids concentration of the harvested algae with minimal additional energy input. Both biomass production and the effects of the algae on the total nitrogen and phosphorus composition of the wastewater were examined periodically. In addition, the composition of the algae after harvesting was examined. Phycocyanin production, dry weight and ash free dry weight were among the characteristics evaluated to determine the appropriate applications for algae cultured in these non potable water sources. Through this method of study we aim to demonstrate the ability of the RABR to produce algal biomass with effective nutrient uptake using Coal bed methane produced water and seawater as non potable water sources.

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