Cultivation of Scenedesmus dimorphus using anaerobic digestate as a nutrient medium


In this study, the microalga Scenedesmus dimorphus was cultivated phototrophically using unsterilized anaerobic digestate as a nutrient medium. A bench-scale experiment was conducted by inoculating the microalga S. dimorphus with 0.05-10% dilutions of the anaerobic digestate supernatant. It was found that 1.25-2.5% dilutions, which is equivalent to 50-100 mg N/L total nitrogen concentrations and 6-12 mg P/L total phosphorus concentrations, provided sufficient nutrients to maximize the growth rate along with achieving high concentrations of algal biomass. The microalgae cultivation was scaled up to 100 L open raceway ponds, where the effect of paddlewheel mixing on the growth was investigated. It was concluded that 0.3 m/s water surface velocity yielded the highest specific growth rate and biomass concentration compared to 0.1 and 0.2 m/s. The microalga S. dimorphus was then cultivated in the raceway ponds using 2.5% diluted anaerobic digestate at 317 and 454 μmol/(m(2) × s) average incident light intensities and 1.25% diluted anaerobic digestate at 234 and 384 μmol/(m(2) × s) average incident light intensities. The maximum biomass concentration was 446 mg/L which was achieved in the 2.5% dilution and 454 μmol/(m(2) × s) light intensity culture. Moreover, nitrogen, phosphorus, and COD removal efficiencies from the nutrient media were 65-72, 63-100, and 78-82%, respectively, whereas ammonia was completely removed from all cultures. For a successful and effective cultivation in open raceway ponds, light intensity has to be increased considerably to overcome the attenuation caused by the algal biomass as well as the suspended solids from the digestate supernatant.