Co-utilisation of microalgae for wastewater treatment and the production of animal feed supplements

Johnson, Hailey E. (2010) Co-utilisation of microalgae for wastewater treatment and the production of animal feed supplements. Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Microalgae have a variety of commercial applications, the oldest of which include utilisation as a food source and for use in wastewater treatment. These applications, however, are seldom combined due to toxicity concerns, for ethical reasons, and generally the requirement for cultivation of a single algae species for use as a feed supplement. These problems might be negated if a “safer” wastewater such as that from agricultural and/or commercial food production facilities were to be utilised and if a stable algae population can be maintained. In this investigation preliminary studies were carried out using an Integrated Algae Pond System (IAPS) for domestic wastewater treatment to determine the species composition in the associated High Rate Algae Ponds (HRAPs). The effect of different modes of operation, continuous versus batch, on nutrient removal, productivity and species composition was also investigated. Furthermore, indigenous species in the HRAP were isolated and molecularly identified as, Chlorella, Micractinium, Scenedesmus and Pediastrum. Additionally, the effect of the nor amino acid, 2-hydroxy-4-(methylthio)-butanoic acid (HMTBA) and its Cu-chelated derivative, on the growth and biochemical composition of Chlorella, Micractinium, Scenedesmus, Pediastrum and Spirulina was investigated. Species composition in the HRAP was stable under continuous operation with Micractinium dominating > 90% of the algae population. Under batch operation the population dynamic shifted; Chlorella outcompeted Micractinium possibly due to nutrient depletion and selective grazing pressures caused by proliferation of Daphnia. Higher species diversity was observed during batch mode as slower growing algae were able to establish in the HRAP. Nutrient removal efficiency and biomass productivity was higher in continuous mode, however lower nutrient levels were obtained in batch operation. HMTBA did not significantly affect growth rate, however treatment with 10 mg.L-1 resulted in slightly increased growth rate in Micractinium and increased final biomass concentrations in Chlorella, Micractinium and Spirulina (although this was not statistically significant for Micractinium and Spirulina), which are known mixotrophic species. Algae treated with Cu-HMTBA, showed reduced final biomass concentration with 10 mg.L-1, caused by Cu toxicity. Biochemical composition of the algae was species-specific and differed through the growth cycle, with high protein observed during early growth and high carbohydrate during late growth/early stationary phase. Additionally, 0.1 mg.L-1 HMTBA and Cu-HMTBA significantly reduced protein content in Chlorella, Micractinium, Scenedesmus and Pediastrum. In conclusion, operation of the HRAP in continuous culture provided suitable wastewater treatment with high productivity of an ideal species, Micractinium, for use in animal feed supplementation. This species had 40% protein content during growth (higher than the other species tested) and dominated the HRAP at > 90% of the algae population during continuous mode. Addition of HMTBA (> 1 mg.L-1) to algae cultivation systems and those treating wastewater, has the potential to improve productivity and the value of the biomass by enhancing protein content. Overall, the co-utilisation of microalgae for wastewater treatment and the generation of a biomass rich in protein, for incorporation into formulated animal feed supplements, represents a closed ecosystem which conserves nutrients and regenerates a most valuable resource, water.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Microalgae, Biotechnology, Algae culture, Algae products, Waste products as feed, Sewage purification, Organic wastes, Recycling, Food industry and trade, Waste disposal, Agriculture
Subjects:T Technology > TP Chemical technology > Biotechnology
Q Science > QR Microbiology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Biochemistry, Microbiology & Biotechnology
ID Code:2089
Deposited By: Ms Chantel Clack
Deposited On:11 Oct 2011 08:26
Last Modified:06 Jan 2012 16:22
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