Industrial Wastewater-Based Algal Biorefineries: Application Constraints and Future Prospects

  • Kristen A. Letry
  • Eric D. Castro
  • Sanjay Kumar Gupta
  • Manish KumarEmail author


Polluted wastewater is generated in copious amounts with the ever-increasing demands of the industrial modern world. Currently, the treatment options for cleaning polluted wastewater are limited. A more recent method of treatment is with algal biorefineries. The following is a review of the applications, constraints, and future prospects of using algal-based biorefineries. The industries covered are the tannery, pulp and paper, and textile industry wastewater. The growth of the industrial sector also sees a growth in the pollution of the environment, specifically the aquatic environments. Phycoremediation is a preferred method due to the fact that there are no secondary pollutants produced as long as the biomass that is produced is reused. For decades, microalgae have been used in the pharmaceutical industry as well as the cosmetic and nutrition sectors. Presently, they are being explored for their potential in the energy sector to replace the use of fossil fuels. Heavy metal and other harsh chemical pollution is a significant issue in many industries. However, several species of algae including Chlorella spp., Synechocystis spp., Scenedesmus spp., and Spirulina spp. have shown to be effective heavy metal reducers. Enabling the remediation ability of microalgae in industrial wastewater and combining it with the biorefinery approach could lead to a cleaner, more cost-effective source of fuel. Replacing standard fossil fuels with algae products could reduce carbon emissions and slow the process of climate change. Research in using algal products for phycoremediation of wastewater and as a source of fuel is an up-and-coming technology that has the potential to make drastic and positive environmental changes.


Industrial wastewater Algal bioremediation Phycoremediation Biofuel 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kristen A. Letry
    • 1
  • Eric D. Castro
    • 1
  • Sanjay Kumar Gupta
    • 2
  • Manish Kumar
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologyTexas State UniversitySan MarcosUSA
  2. 2.Environmental Engineering, Department of Civil EngineeringIndian Institute of Technology – DelhiNew DelhiIndia

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