Journal of Applied Phycology

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 1439–1452 | Cite as

The effect of harvesting on biomass production and nutrient removal in phototrophic biofilm reactors for effluent polishing

  • N. C. Boelee
  • M. Janssen
  • H. Temmink
  • L. Taparavičiūtė
  • R. Khiewwijit
  • Á. Jánoska
  • C. J. N. Buisman
  • R. H. Wijffels
Article

Abstract

An increasing number of wastewater treatment plants require post-treatment to remove residual nitrogen and phosphorus. This study investigated various harvesting regimes that would achieve consistent low effluent concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in a phototrophic biofilm reactor. Experiments were performed in a vertical biofilm reactor under continuous artificial lighting and employing artificial wastewater. Under similar conditions, experiments were performed in near-horizontal flow lanes with biofilms of variable thickness. It was possible to maintain low nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations in the effluent of the vertical biofilm reactor by regularly harvesting half of the biofilm. The average areal biomass production rate achieved a 7 g dry weight m−2 day−1 for all different harvesting frequencies tested (every 2, 4, or 7 days), corresponding to the different biofilm thicknesses. Apparently, the biomass productivity is similar for a wide range of biofilm thicknesses. The biofilm could not be maintained for more than 2 weeks as, after this period, it spontaneously detached from the carrier material. Contrary to the expectations, the biomass production doubled when the biofilm thickness was increased from 130 μm to 2 mm. This increased production was explained by the lower density and looser structure of the 2 mm biofilm. It was concluded that, concerning biomass production and labor requirement, the optimum harvesting frequency is once per week.

Keywords

Microalgae Harvesting Biofilm thickness Wastewater treatment Nitrogen removal Phosphorus removal 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This work was performed in the TTIW-cooperation framework of Wetsus, center of excellence for sustainable water technology (http://www.wetsus.nl). Wetsus is funded by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, the European Union Regional Development Fund, the Province of Fryslân, the City of Leeuwarden, and the EZ/Kompas program of the “Samenwerkingsverband Noord-Nederland”. The authors like to thank the participants of the research theme “Advanced waste water treatment” and the steering committee of STOWA for the fruitful discussions and their financial support, and K. Sukacova for the taxonomical analysis.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. C. Boelee
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • M. Janssen
    • 1
    • 2
  • H. Temmink
    • 1
    • 3
  • L. Taparavičiūtė
    • 1
  • R. Khiewwijit
    • 1
  • Á. Jánoska
    • 1
  • C. J. N. Buisman
    • 1
    • 3
  • R. H. Wijffels
    • 2
  1. 1.Wetsus-Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water TechnologyLeeuwardenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Bioprocess Engineering, AlgaePARCWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Sub-department of Environmental TechnologyWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands

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