Evaluating the effect of hydraulic retention time on fouling development and biomass characteristics in an algal membrane photobioreactor treating a secondary wastewater effluent

A.F. Novoa, L. Fortunato, Z. Ur Rehman, T.O. Leiknes
Bioresource Technology, Vol. 309, p. 123348, (2020)

Evaluating the effect of hydraulic retention time on fouling development and biomass characteristics in an algal membrane photobioreactor treating a secondary wastewater effluent

Keywords

Fouling, Microalgae separation, Nutrient removal, Membrane photobioreactor, Chlorella vulgaris

Abstract

​Coupling algal biomass growth to wastewater treatment is a promising alternative for the simultaneous removal and recovery of nutrients. This study aims to evaluate the effects of the Hydraulic Retention Time (HRT) on the fouling behavior and biomass characteristics of C. Vulgaris in a Membrane Photobioreactor (MPBR), fed with a secondary synthetic wastewater effluent. The changes in the algal cell characteristics and in their metabolic products were assessed at three different HRTs (12 h, 24 h and 36 h). Experimental results showed that higher loading rates led to a broader Particle Size Distribution (PSD) resulting from looser and less stable algal flocs. In contrast, bigger and homogeneously distributed particles observed at lower loading rates, led to a porous layer with lower fouling rates and organic removal. The presence of smaller particles and dissolved organics resulted in a more compact and less porous layer that increased the removal of small-MW organics.

Code

DOI:10.1016/j.biortech.2020.123348

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