Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 287-297

First online:

Microalgae growth on concentrated human urine

  • Kanjana TuantetAffiliated withSub-department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University Email author 
  • , Marcel JanssenAffiliated withBioprocess Engineering, Wageningen University
  • , Hardy TemminkAffiliated withSub-department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University
  • , Grietje ZeemanAffiliated withSub-department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University
  • , René H. WijffelsAffiliated withBioprocess Engineering, Wageningen University
  • , Cees J. N. BuismanAffiliated withSub-department of Environmental Technology, Wageningen University

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In this study, for the first time, a microalga was grown on non-diluted human urine. The essential growth requirements for the species Chlorella sorokiniana were determined for different types of human urine (fresh, hydrolysed, male and female). Batch experimental results using microtiter plates showed that both fresh and synthetic urine supported rapid growth of this species, provided additional trace elements (Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn) were added. When using hydrolysed urine instead of fresh urine, additional magnesium had to be added as it precipitates during hydrolysis of urea. C. sorokiniana was able to grow on non-diluted urine with a specific growth rate as high as 0.104 h−1 under light-limited conditions (105 μmol photons m−2 s−1), and the growth was not inhibited by ammonium up to a concentration of 1,400 mg NH4 +-N L−1. The highest growth rate on human urine was as high as 0.158 h−1. Because it was demonstrated that concentrated urine is a rich and good nutrient source for the production of microalgae, its application for a large-scale economical and sustainable microalgae production for biochemicals, biofuels and biofertilizers becomes feasible.


Microalgae growth Source-separated urine Trace elements Magnesium