Microalgae for Biodiesel Production and Pharmaceutical Removal from Water

  • Carlos Escudero-OñateEmail author
  • Laura Ferrando-Climent
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 22)


During the past 20 years, the presence of pharmaceutical active compounds in water bodies has been gaining increasing attention, and nowadays there is broad acknowledgement that they should be considered an emerging environmental problem. The existing scientific literature clearly points out that pharmaceuticals enter the environment and provoke adverse effects. The main source of these compounds is wastewater, since, after intake, the pharmaceutical compounds are absorbed, metabolized, and finally excreted into the sewerage system. Although wastewater is normally collected and delivered to treatment plants, it has been demonstrated that the regular treatments applied in such facilities are not completely effective for removal of a variety of pharmaceuticals, which are subsequently introduced into the environment.

Microalgae can play a relevant role in remediation of wastewater. In addition to their well-known capacity to remove organic carbon, nutrients, and even heavy metals from water, microalgae have recently been revealed to have significant potential to remove pharmaceutical compounds from polluted effluents. Microalgae offer a further benefit to close the mass-to-energy loop, since their content of carbohydrates and oils allows them to be considered as a potential feedstock for the production of biofuels.

In this chapter, the authors review the potential of microalgae to remove contaminants of emerging concern from water, paying special attention to pharmaceutical compounds. The immobilization techniques that can be used to facilitate the harvesting process and valorization of the biomass for the production of biodiesel are also assessed.


Microalgae Pharmaceutical active compounds Wastewater Entrapment Immobilization Liquid biofuels Biodiesel 



This research was financially supported through the NordForsk Nordic Center of Excellence NordAqua program (project number 82845).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carlos Escudero-Oñate
    • 1
    Email author
  • Laura Ferrando-Climent
    • 2
  1. 1.Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)OsloNorway
  2. 2.Tracer Technology Department, Fluid Flow and Environmental TechnologyInstitute for Energy TechnologyKjellerNorway

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