Finding optimal algal/bacterial inoculation ratio to improve algal biomass growth with wastewater as nutrient source
Algal growth, nutrient removal and settling efficiency were quantified while inoculating sequencing batch reactors with a mixture of microalgae and bacteria (activated sludge). Three algae/bacteria inoculation ratios (5:1, 1:1 and 1:5) as well as pure algal biomass (control) were assessed. Algal biomass production increased with the addition of activated sludge. However, the addition of too much activated sludge can cause disturbance to the Al-Bac biomass growth and algal bacterial processes. All reactors including the control with only algae showed similar settling and nutrient removal efficiencies. Good settling was observed in all reactors with only 5% of total biomass found in supernatant after 1 h of settling. Removal efficiencies of COD, TN and PO4 -P in all reactors were 79–82%, 61–65% and 15–37%, respectively, with the lowest phosphorus removal efficiency belonging to 1:5 algae/activated sludge ratio. These results may be due to both long hydraulic (7 days) and solids retention times (up to 30 days). Finally, Al-Bac biomass with 1:1 inoculation ratio showed the best enhancement in terms of biomass growth and algal activities.
Keywords: microalgae, activated sludge, nutrients, wastewater, sequencing batch reactor