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Upgrading industrial effluent for agricultural reuse: effects of digestate concentration and wood vinegar dosage on biosynthesis of plant growth promotor

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Emphasis on water reuse in agricultural sector receives a renewed interest to close the loop in circular economy, especially in dry and water-stressed regions. In this work, wastewater from cooperative smoked sheet rubber factory and the effluent (digestate) from its treatment system (anaerobic digester) were used as medium to grow purple non-sulfur bacteria (PNSB), Rhodopseudomonas palustris strain PP803, with wood vinegar supplement at mid-log growth phase to stimulate the release of 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), a plant growth promotor. Wastewater-to-digestate ratios (D:W) represented by soluble chemical oxygen demand (SCOD) were found to influence both the growth of R. palustris and synthesis of ALA. The highest ALA release of 16.02 ± 0.75 μM and the biomass accumulation of 1302 ± 78 mg/L were obtained from the medium SCOD of 4953 mg/L. Although retarding biomass accumulation by 28–36%, wood vinegar (WV) addition was proven to improve ALA release by 40%. Result suggested that SCOD of 3438 mg/L (75:25 D:W) contained sufficient carbon source for PNSB growth and was chosen to subsequently run the photo-bioreactor (PBR) to sustain R. palustris PP803 cells production. In continuous PBR operation, PNSB proliferation suffered from the low organic concentration in PBR at low organic loading. An organic loading increase to 1.21 g COD/L day was found to attain highest biomass concentration and longest PNSB dominant period over microalgea. In this study, a real-time monitoring protocol of PNSB and microalgae was specifically developed based on image color analysis at acceptable accuracy (R2 = 0.94). In the final assay, verification of the PBR-grown inoculant was conducted and ALA release efficiency was discussed under various wood vinegar dosages and dosing frequencies. This work has advanced our understandings closer to practical field application.

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Anaerobic digestion


5-Aminolevulinic acid


Aminolevulinic dehydratase


Aminolevulinic synthase


Chemical oxygen demand


Cooperative smoked sheet rubber factory


Digestate-to-wastewater ratio


Hydraulic retention time


Levulinic acid




Most probable number


Organic loading rate




Purple non-sulfur bacteria


Pigment red to pigment green ratio


Ratio of PNSB to total (PNSB + MICA) in the effluent based on MPN/L


Soluble chemical oxygen demand


Time of culturing


Total chemical oxygen demand


Wood vinegar


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Research facility of the Biogas and Biorefinery Research Laboratory at the Faculty of Engineering of Price of Songkla University was very much appreciated.


This research was financially supported by the Thailand Research Fund (TRF) and Thai Rubber Latex Cooperative Ltd. (Nam Yang Thai Coop. Co., Ltd.) through the Research and Researcher for Industries (RRI) Grant No. MSD5710062. The authors would also like to thank partial supports from Annual Research Budget of the Prince of Songkla University (PSU) contract no. ENG570183S and the Graduate School of Prince of Songkla University.

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Correspondence to Sumate Chaiprapat.

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Hosakul, P., Kantachote, D., Saritpongteeraka, K. et al. Upgrading industrial effluent for agricultural reuse: effects of digestate concentration and wood vinegar dosage on biosynthesis of plant growth promotor. Environ Sci Pollut Res (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11356-020-08014-w

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  • 5-aminolevulinic acid
  • Purple non-sulfur bacteria
  • Anaerobic digester
  • Wood vinegar
  • Image color analysis
  • Wastewater reclamation