Wastewater Treatment and Algal Biofuel Production

  • Rupert J. Craggs
  • Tryg J. Lundquist
  • John R. Benemann
Part of the Developments in Applied Phycology book series (DAPH, volume 5)


Promoting algal production in wastewater treatment high rate algal ponds (HRAPs) by CO2 addition enables cost effective near tertiary-level wastewater treatment to be achieved and the harvested algal biomass by-product can be used for biofuel production. Naturally occurring algae thrive on wastewater providing the oxygen for aerobic bacteria to break down the waste to ammonia, phosphate and CO2 which are then assimilated into new algal biomass. Low C:N ratios in wastewater mean that additional CO2 added to HRAP will enable all the wastewater N to be assimilated into algal biomass. CO2 may be easily obtained at the treatment plant as exhaust gas from biogas power generation. CO2 addition to wastewater treatment HRAPs has a further benefit in enhancing bioflocculation of the algal-bacterial biomass to enable low-cost harvest by gravity settling. Although there are several options to convert harvested algal biomass to biofuel, processes that use the entire biomass with little or no dewatering are preferable, and for wastewater treatment plants, anaerobic digestion of the algal biomass along with settled primary sludge is the most easily implemented and economic technology. Since the capital and operation costs of wastewater treatment HRAP are covered by their wastewater treatment role, they provide a cost-effective, even if niche, opportunity for algal biofuel production that could be of great value to the local community. Moreover, GHG abatement and nutrient fertilizer recovery provide additional environmental and financial incentives. Upgrading existing wastewater treatment facultative ponds (used world-over for secondary-level wastewater treatment) to tertiary treatment HRAPs provides an avenue to refine operation and performance issues of these ponds at large(hectare)-scale, for future application to standalone algal biofuel systems.


Wastewater Treatment Anaerobic Digestion Algal Biomass Nutrient Removal Algal Production 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Jason Park, Stephan Heubeck and Ian Woertz who provided valuable contributions to this chapter. NIWA funding was provided by the New Zealand Foundation for Research Science and Technology.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rupert J. Craggs
    • 1
  • Tryg J. Lundquist
    • 2
  • John R. Benemann
    • 3
  1. 1.National Institute for Water and Atmospheric ResearchHamiltonNew Zealand
  2. 2.Civil and Environmental Engineering DepartmentCalifornia Polytechnic State UniversitySan Luis ObispoUSA
  3. 3.Benemann and AssociatesWalnut CreekUSA

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