Trimethylamine abatement in algal-bacterial photobioreactors

  • Celia Pascual
  • Ilker Akmirza
  • Rebeca Pérez
  • Esther Arnaiz
  • Raúl Muñoz
  • Raquel LebreroEmail author
Advanced technologies and best practices


Trimethylamine (TMA) is an odorous volatile organic compound emitted by industries. Algal-based biotechnologies have been proven as a feasible alternative for wastewater treatment, although their application to abate polluted air emissions is still scarce. This work comparatively assessed the removal of TMA in a conventional bacterial bubble column bioreactor (BC) and a novel algal-bacterial bubble column photobioreactor (PBC). The PBC exhibited a superior TMA abatement performance compared to the conventional BC. In this sense, the BC reached a removal efficiency (RE) and an elimination capacity (EC) of 78% and 12.1 g TMA m−3 h−1, respectively, while the PBC achieved a RE of 97% and a EC of 16.0 g TMA m−3·h−1 at an empty bed residence time (EBRT) of 2 min and a TMA concentration ~500 mg m−3. The outstanding performance of the PBC allowed to reduce the operating EBRT to 1.5 and 1 min while maintaining high REs of 98 and 94% and ECs of 21.2 and 28.1 g m−3·h−1, respectively. Moreover, the PBC improved the quality of the gas and liquid effluents discharged, showing a net CO2 consumption and decreasing by ~ 30% the total nitrogen concentration in the liquid effluent via biomass assimilation. A high specialization of the bacterial community was observed in the PBC, Mumia and Aquamicrobium sp. being the most abundant genus within the main phyla identified.



Biodegradation Bubble column bioreactor Microalgae-bacteria Odor treatment Photobioreactor Trimethylamine 


Funding information

This work was supported by the regional government of Castilla y León and the EU-FEDER programme (UIC 71 and CLU 2017-09).

Supplementary material

11356_2019_7369_MOESM1_ESM.docx (79 kb)
ESM1 (DOCX 79 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental TechnologyUniversity of ValladolidValladolidSpain
  2. 2.Institute of Sustainable ProcessesUniversity of ValladolidValladolidSpain
  3. 3.Department of Environmental EngineeringGebze Technical UniversityKocaeliTurkey

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