Growth of Chlorella vulgaris on Sugarcane Vinasse: The Effect of Anaerobic Digestion Pretreatment
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Microalgae farming has been identified as the most eco-sustainable solution for producing biodiesel. However, the operation of full-scale plants is still limited by costs and the utilization of industrial and/or domestic wastes can significantly improve economic profits. Several waste effluents are valuable sources of nutrients for the cultivation of microalgae. Ethanol production from sugarcane, for instance, generates significant amounts of organically rich effluent, the vinasse. After anaerobic digestion treatment, nutrient remaining in such an effluent can be used to grow microalgae. This research aimed to testing the potential of the anaerobic treated vinasse as an alternative source of nutrients for culturing microalgae with the goal of supplying the biodiesel industrial chain with algal biomass and oil. The anaerobic process treating vinasse reached a steady state at about 17 batch cycles of 24 h producing about 0.116 m3CH4 kgCODvinasse −1. The highest productivity of Chlorella vulgaris biomass (70 mg l−1 day−1) was observed when using medium prepared with the anaerobic digester effluent. Lipid productivity varied from 0.5 to 17 mg l−1 day−1. Thus, the results show that it is possible to integrate the culturing of microalgae with the sugarcane industry by means of anaerobic digestion of the vinasse. There is also the advantageous possibility of using by-products of the anaerobic digestion such as methane and CO2 for sustaining the system with energy and carbon source, respectively.
KeywordsVinasse Anaerobic digestion Microalgae and biofuels
The authors would like to acknowledge the financial support from the Brazilian Research Councils: grant 551134/2010-0 from CNPq and grant PET004/2103 from CAPES/FAPESB and also the donation of vinasse by Agrovale S/A, Brazil.
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