Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 41–46 | Cite as

Treatment of swine manure effluent using freshwater algae: Production, nutrient recovery, and elemental composition of algal biomass at four effluent loading rates

  • Elizabeth Kebede-Westhead
  • Carolina Pizarro
  • Walter W. Mulbry


Cultivating algae on nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in animal manure effluents presents an alternative to the current practice of land application. The objective of this study was to determine how algal productivity, nutrient removal efficiency, and elemental composition of turf algae change in response to different loading rates of raw swine manure effluent. Algal biomass was harvested weekly from laboratory scale algal turf scrubber units using four manure effluent loading rates (0.24, 0.40, 0.62 and 1.2 L m−2 d−1) corresponding to daily loading rates of 0.3–1.4 g total N and 0.08–0.42 g total P. Mean algal productivity values increased from 7.1 g DW m−2 d−1 at the lowest loading rate (0.24 L m−2 d−1) to 9.4 g DW m−2 d−1 at the second loading rate (0.40 L m−2 d−1). At these loading rates, algal N and P accounted for> 90% of input N and 68–76% of input P, respectively. However, at higher loading rates algal productivity did not increase and was unstable at the highest loading rate. Mean N and P contents in the dried biomass increased 1.5 to 2.0-fold with increasing loading rate up to maximums of 5.7% N and 1.8% P at 1.2 L m−2 d−1. Biomass concentrations of Al, Ca, Cd, Fe, K, Mg, Mn, Mo, Si, and Zn increased 1.2 to 2.6-fold over the 5-fold range of loading rate. Biomass concentrations of Cd, K, Pb, and Si did not increase significantly with loading rate. At the loading rate of 0.40 L m−2 d−1 (corresponding to peak productivity) the mean concentrations of individual components in the algal biomass were (in mg kg−1): 250 (Al), 4900 (Ca), 0.30 (Cd), 1050 (Fe), 3.4 (Pb), 2500 (Mg), 105 (Mn), 6.0 (Mo), 7,500 (K), and 510 (Zn). At these concentrations, heavy metals in the algal biomass would not be expected to reduce its value as a soil or feed amendment.

algal turf scrubber swine manure phytoremediation algae composition 



algal turf scrubber


total phosphorus


total nitrogen


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Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elizabeth Kebede-Westhead
    • 1
  • Carolina Pizarro
    • 1
  • Walter W. Mulbry
    • 1
  1. 1.United States Department of AgricultureBeltsville Agricultural Research CenterBeltsvilleUSA

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