Algal biofilm ponds for polishing secondary effluent and resource recovery

  • Alexios G. Orfanos
  • Ioannis D. ManariotisEmail author


In order to reduce the cost of microalgae harvesting, biofilm algal cultivations have received attention as a potential platform for algal biomass production and wastewater treatment. Two 50-L ponds containing vertically oriented geotextiles, cotton textiles, and polyethylene sheets were fed secondary effluent to examine the growth of algal biofilms. The removal of total phosphorus, PO43−-P and NO3-N ranged from 52 to 97%, 59 to 93%, and 0 to 99%, respectively. The highest biomass productivity was 1.4 and 0.5 g m−2 day−1, and the lipid content of the attached biomass was quite low, 0.36 and 0.48%, in the cotton textile and polyethylene-baffled pond, respectively. The lipid content of the suspended biomass of the cotton textile and polyethylene pond was very low and similar (0.5%), but it increased to 13.8 and 3.4%, respectively, after a starvation period of 13 days.


Microalgae Baffled ponds Biofilm Bacteria Wastewater treatment 



  1. APHA, AWWA, WEF (2012) Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater, 22nd edn. American Public Health Association, American Water Works Association, Water Environment Federation, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  2. Aravantinou AF, Theodorakopoulos MA, Manariotis ID (2013) Selection of microalgae for wastewater treatment and potential lipids production. Bioresour Technol 147:130–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aravantinou AF, Tsarpali V, Dailianis S, Manariotis ID (2015) Toxic effects of ZnO nanoparticles to freshwater and marine microalgae cultures. Ecotoxicol Environ Saf 114:109–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Aravantinou AF, Barkonikou EF, Manariotis ID (2017) Microalgae biomass growth and lipid production using primary treated wastewater. Desalin Water Treat 91:228–234CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Babu MA, Hes EMA, van der Steen NP, Hooijmans CM, Gijzen HJ (2010) Nitrification rates of algal-bacterial biofilms in wastewater stabilization ponds under light and dark conditions. Ecol Eng 36:1741–1746CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Blanken W, Janssen M, Cuaresma M, Libor Z, Bhaiji T, Wijffels RH (2014) Biofilm growth of Chlorella sorokiniana in a rotating biological contactor based photobioreactor. Biotechnol Bioeng 111:2436–2445CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Boelee NC, Temmink H, Janssen M, Buisman CJN, Wijffels RH (2011) Nitrogen and phosphorus removal from municipal wastewater effluent using microalgal biofilms. Water Res 45:5925–5933CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Boelee NC, Temmink H, Janssen M, Buisman CJN, Wijffels RH (2014a) Balancing the organic load and light supply in symbiotic microalgal-bacterial biofilm reactors treating synthetic municipal wastewater. Ecol Eng 64:213–221CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Boelee NC, Janssen M, Temmink H, Taparavičiūtė L, Khiewwijit R, Jánoska Á, Buisman CJN, Wijffels RH (2014b) The effect of harvesting on biomass production and nutrient removal in phototrophic biofilm reactors for effluent polishing. J Appl Phycol 26:1439–1452CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Buhr HO, Miller SB (1983) A dynamic model of the high-rate algal-bacterial wastewater treatment pond. Water Res 17:29–37CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Christenson LB, Sims RC (2012) Rotating algal biofilm reactor and spool harvester for wastewater treatment with biofuels by-products. Biotechnol Bioeng 109:1674–1684CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Craggs R, Park J, Sutherland D, Heubeck S (2015) Economic construction and operation of hectare-scale wastewater treatment enhanced pond systems. J Appl Phycol 27:1913–1922CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Davis R, Aden A, Pienkos PT (2011) Techno-economic analysis of autotrophic microalgae for fuel production. Appl Energy 88:3524–3531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Fica ZT, Sims RC (2016) Algae-based biofilm productivity utilizing dairy wastewater: effects of temperature and organic carbon concentration. J Biol Eng 10:18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Folch J, Lees M, Sloane Stanley GH (1957) A simple method for the isolation and purification of total lipides from animal tissues. J Biol Chem 226:497–509Google Scholar
  16. Gao F, Yang Z-H, Li C, Zeng GM, Ma DH, Zhou L (2015) A novel algal biofilm membrane photobioreactor for attached microalgae growth and nutrients removal from secondary effluent. Bioresour Technol 179:8–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Genin SN, Aitchison JS, Allen DG (2014) Design of algal film photobioreactors: material surface energy effects on algal film productivity, colonization and lipid content. Bioresour Technol 155:136–143CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gross M, Wen Z (2014) Yearlong evaluation of performance and durability of a pilot-scale revolving algal biofilm (RAB) cultivation system. Bioresour Technol 171:50–58CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gross M, Henry W, Michael C, Wen Z (2013) Development of a rotating algal biofilm growth system for attached microalgae growth with in situ biomass harvest. Bioresour Technol 150:195–201CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Gross M, Jarboe D, Wen Z (2015) Biofilm-based algal cultivation systems. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 99:5781–5789CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Kesaano M, Sims RC (2014) Algal biofilm based technology for wastewater treatment. Algal Res 5:231–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Liu T, Wang J, Hu Q, Cheng P, Ji B, Liu J, Chen Y, Zhang W, Chen X, Chen L, Gao L, J C, Wang H (2013) Attached cultivation technology of microalgae for efficient biomass feedstock production. Bioresour Technol 127:216–222CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Naumann T, Çebi Z, Podola B, Melkonian M (2013) Growing microalgae as aquaculture feeds on twin-layers: a novel solid-state photobioreactor. J Appl Phycol 25: 1413–1420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Oron G, Shelef G, Levi A, Meydan A, Azov Y (1979) Algae/bacteria ratio in high-rate ponds used for waste treatment. Appl Environ Microbiol 38:570–576PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  25. Santiago AF, Calijuri ML, Assemany PP, Calijuri MC, dos Reis AJD (2013) Algal biomass production and wastewater treatment in high rate algal ponds receiving disinfected effluent. Environ Technol 34:1877–1885CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Schnurr PJ, Allen DG (2015) Factors affecting algae biofilm growth and lipid production: a review. Renew Sust Energ Rev 52:418–429CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Schumacher G, Sekoulov I (2002) Polishing of secondary effluent by an algal biofilm process. Water Sci Technol 46:83–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Shayan SI, Agblevor FA, Bertin L, Sims RC (2016) Hydraulic retention time effects on wastewater nutrient removal and bioproduct production via rotating algal biofilm reactor. Bioresour Technol 211:527–533CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Shi J, Podola B, Melkonian M (2014) Application of a prototype-scale twin-layer photobioreactor for effective N and P removal from different process stages of municipal wastewater by immobilized microalgae. Bioresour Technol 154:260–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Su Y, Mennerich A, Urban B (2016) The long-term effects of wall attached microalgal biofilm on algae-based wastewater treatment. Bioresour Technol 218:1249–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Sukačová K, Trtílek M, Rataj T (2015) Phosphorus removal using a microalgal biofilm in a new biofilm photobioreactor for tertiary wastewater treatment. Water Res 71:55–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Tao Q, Gao F, Qian C-Y, Guo X-Z, Zheng Z, Yang Z-H (2017) Enhanced biomass/biofuel production and nutrient removal in an algal biofilm airlift photobioreactor. Algal Res 21:9–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Vergini S, Aravantinou AF, Manariotis ID (2016) Harvesting of freshwater and marine microalgae by common coagulants and magnetic microparticles. J Appl Phycol 28:1041–1049CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wang JH, Zhuang LL, Xu XQ, Deantes-Espinosa VM, Wang XX, Hu HY (2018) Microalgal attachment and attached systems for biomass production and wastewater treatment. Renew Sust Energ Rev 92:331–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Wei Q, Hu Z, Li G, Xiao B, Sun H, Tao M (2008) Removing nitrogen and phosphorus from simulated wastewater using algal biofilm technique. Front Environ Sci Eng 2:446–451CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wilkie AC, Mulbry WW (2002) Recovery of dairy manure nutrients by benthic freshwater algae. Bioresour Technol 84:81–91CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Zamalloa C, Boon N, Verstraete W (2013) Decentralized two-stage sewage treatment by chemical-biological flocculation combined with microalgae biofilm for nutrient immobilization in a roof installed parallel plate reactor. Bioresour Technol 130:152–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Environmental Engineering Laboratory, Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece

Personalised recommendations