Treatment of Domestic and Industrial Wastewater Using Algae Strains Critical Analysis and Review essay

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Treatment of Domestic and Industrial Wastewater Using Algae Strains: Critical Analysis and Review

Wastewater comprises of liquid or water carried wastes coming from sanitary conveniences of residences, commercial or industrial buildings and facilities; in addition, to other ground water, surface water, and storm water if present. Untreated water has high levels of organic material, pathogenic organisms, nutrients and many toxic elements. Therefore, this type of wastewater poses as an environmental and health danger; hence, calling for moving such waste from its sources and treat it appropriately before disposal [1]. The primary objective of wastewater management is to protect the environment in a way to align with public health and socio-economic concerns. For this reason, wastewater management is becoming vital because of diminishing water resources, increase wastewater disposal costs and strict discharge regulations that have lowered possible contaminant levels in water bodies.

The significance of water as a worldwide resource for human life is irrefutable. For this indisputable reason, people in the globe feel it is a requirement to protect this important resource such that it has become a conservation priority globally. Therefore, this has seen to the advancement in the efficiency, convenience, and sanitation of the human society owing to the establishment and distribution of large-scale dependable supplies of high quality water. In so doing; however, the same establishments allow the convenient disposal of infectious and hazardous effluents form their sources, and generally, into any water body [2]. This aqueous, or wastewater and the activities included, such as the correction of the situation, which form the basis of this thesis.

Although there are many treatment practices, some of them generate a lot of sludge that needs off-site disposal. In addition, many of the wastewater treatment activities cannot efficiently variations in the composition of wastewater. This means that a treatment process, which may have efficiency in treating wastewater in some time of the year, is not proficient in treating wastewater in other times of the year. This paper is an analysis of researches on algae for wastewater treatment. On the contrary, a system based on algae, proved to have interesting advantages over conventional methods of wastewater treatment. Algae-based water treatment is cost effective, requires low energy, reduces the formation of sludge, and generates useful algal biomass [3].


The notion of algae-bacteria culture as an engineered system in domestic and industrial wastewater treatment has witnessed increased force over the past decades. This system works well in regions that experience high solar radiation and temperature because the removal is a natural process. When solar radiations fall on the algae, they react by producing oxygen, which aerobic bacteria may use to biodegrade pollutants, whilst the algae take in the carbon dioxide released from bacterial respiration [4]. In so doing, the algae provide an affordable and safe alternative to mechanical aeration; additionally, it ends up contributing to carbon dioxide mitigation. This technology is efficient because nitrogen and phosphorous could accumulate into the algae bacterial biomass during the removal process.

The disadvantage of adopting this technology is the requirement for cost-effective biomass harvesting methods. For this reason, there is a need to apply a technical separation unit comprising of centrifugation, which will in turn raise the cost. Utilizing chemicals such as Calcium, or Slaked lime in the technology, will result in secondary pollutants [5]. Incorporating an immobilization with the technology is a possible solution; however, all media are expensive and ineffective over a long period of operation. Therefore, there is a need to adopt an efficient biomass harvesting strategy such as a settle able algae-bacteria system. Although previous studies touched on identification and biometry of the dominant algal species, the studies lacked sufficient information about the bacterial community associated with the process [4].


According to [6] Algae play an important role in the natural self-purification of contaminated waters. This phenomenon, for natural algal treatment, moreover, cannot happen without biological intervention. Early studies comment that this kind of association qualifies as an interrelationship or mutual "symbiosis" between algae and bacteria. In addition, Bartsch in his, research comments that, bacteria and algae are the most dominant organisms among the plank tonic biota of oceans with their association metabolism help them in controlling pelagic energy flow and nutrient cycling in aquatic environments. The treatment of concentrated wastes depends on these microbiological processes to accomplish the treatment.

In addition, [6] further comments that a WSP serves as a reactor that intensifies waste concentrations, resulting in an accelerated rate of "naturally occurring" waste treatment and the purification processes. At the center of this natural biological process is the cyclic synergistic relationship amid algae and bacteria. However, the author, in his research suggests that certain fungi play a substantial role in this algal-microbial stabilization of organic effluents within WSPs such that the metabolic elements of fungi bacteria and algae have a correlation. Apart from [6] there are other studies on the role of algae in wastewater treatment, providing a discussion and research within literature with the biochemistry now strongly developed.

The above figure is an example of a developed model of a concise process overview, with algal-bacteria interrelationship central in the [6]. It is a process showing the "Cyclic symbiosis" amid algae and bacteria within a WSP environment.

Elaboration of the above process

Heterotrophic microbial mineralization of incoming organic materials generates carbon dioxide (CO2), ammonia-nitrogen (NH3 -N), phosphates (PO 43- ) and essential vitamins. All these by-products are stable, inorganic and oxidized. Afterwards, the autotrophic algae utilize the synthesized products of bacterial metabolism for their own development and growth through photosynthesis. In addition, the splitting of the water molecules, during the course of algal photosynthesis, provides oxygen for aerobic microbes to allow for oxidative decomposition of wastewater organics; therefore, the process continues in this "positive feedback" cycle. The aquatic chemistry showed in the figure accounts for the diurnal shifts in dissolved oxygen (photosynthesis and respiration), PH (carbonate-bicarbonate) mostly seen in WSPs.

Using Aquatic Plants

Several studies did refer to the capacity of aquatic plants to get nutrients from the water in which they survived. The main reason, which has prompted the rise in the papers within the last decade on the nutrient extraction possibilities of water plants is the increase in awareness of the problems of water pollution both fresh and salt water resulting from population increase, industrial development, human disposal, animal and industrial wastes into water bodies [1]. Many of the examples of devastating effects of the wastewater on previously clean rivers and lakes aroused public and scientific consciousness on the need to arrest the practice of disposing but try to reverse the process by extracting the pollutants [1]. The exceptional ability of water plants have the ability to extort compounds and elements from water effectively is well organized.

According to [7], he suggested a method for reducing water pollution by harvesting water plants, which have extracted nutrients from the water. The author comments that all water plants can serve this purpose; however, small plants or submerged plants are difficult and expensive to harvest compared to floating and emergent vascular plants. For instance, [7] suggests that the water hyacinth covers 10% of the pond and can serve well in removing adequate nutrients to avoid excessive phytoplankton development. In addition, the author suggests that the water hyacinth has the ability to extract nitrogen and phosphorous under good developing conditions.

Practical Application of Algal Treatment Process

According to a recent report by Oligae, using algae-based wastewater treatment is cost effective, requires low energy, reduces sludge formation, reduces emission of GHG and generates significant algal biomass as compared to traditional wastewater treatment method [4]. In addition, in their report, Oligae suggest that algae can make bio-ethanol, bio-butanes, hydrogen and vegetable oil as compared to other crops grown to treat wastewater treatment. In the case of hydrogen production, this resulted when Hans Gaffron, a German scholar observed that algae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (a green algae), would at times produce oxygen and switch to produce hydrogen. In addition, algae are significant in generation of biomass, which may play a role in heat and electricity generation [4]. The technology behind algae-wastewater treatment is applicable in various industries including poultry, dairy, aquaculture, textiles, pulp, distillery, leather, foods, petrochemicals, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, mining and metalworking.




Poultry muscle

Effluent description

Fats, proteins, carbohydrates, nitrogen, phosphorous, chlorine, pathogens

Effluent treatment goals

To reduce sludge, remove N, P and neutralize smell and also remove pathogens

Current effluent treatment process

Separation and sedimentation of solids that can float, anaerobic and aerobic treatment, removing nutrients biologically, chlorination and utilizing filters

Algal treatment process

It involves assimilation of nutrients using high rate algal ponds (HRAP)

Process of Algal Treatment Process in Poultry Industry

Source: Oligae report [4]

Evidence-based Research

Materials and Methods

Settle-able algal bacteria culture enrichment

For this evidence-based research, algae inoculum was from the second wall of the Suderburg municipal wastewater treatment plant. This algae solution, was then to settle for one hour, afterwards 30g (wet weight) of it used as algae inoculums for the algal culture enrichment. In the…[continue]

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