INSTITUTE FOR WATER AND WASTEWATER TECHNOLOGY
AN INTEGRATED BIOREFINERY APPROACH FOR MICROALGAL BIOMASS GENERATION USING AGRO-INDUSTRIAL WASTEWATER
Increase in greenhouse gases and global warming have resulted in the search for sustainable alternative sources of renewable energy. Microalgae could provide a conceivable solution to many problems ranging from bioremediation, greenhouse gas emission reduction to generation of value added products. Carbon fixation, rapid growth, adaptability to harsh conditions and the ability to grow in unfavourable conditions throughout the year are some of the advantages of microalgal cultivation. Sustainability is the key to any renewable technology. Although microalgae have gained interest as alternative feedstock for production, the high costs of production, reliable water supply source and the low production scale of microalgal biomass provide a barrier commercial fruition
The use of microalgae in the biorefinery concept wherein different industries are combined for numerous and mutual benefits could result in a solution that does not only satisfy the need, but also alleviates environmental problems. Depending on the species and the cultivation conditions, microalgae can produce valuable carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins which have application in biofuels, animals feed, nutraceuticals and cosmetics. Application of the biorefinery approach using agro-industrial waste streams for biomass cultivation can ease the major cost challenges of production. Wastewater often comprises organic and inorganic nutrients, synthetic compounds and trace elements which form suitable substrates for cultivation of several algal species. The utilisation of wastewater as a nutrient and water source under different modes of cultivation offers a dual-role purpose of remediation and biomass generation. Microalgae efficiently remove and utilizes the nitrogen and phosphorus present in wastewater and assimilate them as part of their biomass.
Given that microalgal biomass contains high levels of micro- and macronutrients essential for plant growth, they have potential application as biofertilizers. These biofertilizers are either produced after the extraction of lipids using the residues in the form of biorefinery approach or can be produced using the whole cells. Biofertilizers can help assist in the growth of crops and reduce agricultural dependence of chemical fertilisers.
To find out more about this project download our CASE FOR SUPPORT booklet.