A cost analysis of microalgal biomass and biodiesel production in open raceways treating municipal wastewater and under optimum light wavelength.J Microbiol Biotechnol. 2015 Jan; 25(1):109-18.JM
Open raceway ponds are cost-efficient for mass cultivation of microalgae compared with photobioreactors. Although low-cost options like wastewater as nutrient source is studied to overcome the commercialization threshold for biodiesel production from microalgae, a cost analysis on the use of wastewater and other incremental increases in productivity has not been elucidated. We determined the effect of using wastewater and wavelength filters on microalgal productivity. Experimental results were then fitted into a model, and cost analysis was performed in comparison with control raceways. Three different microalgal strains, Chlorella vulgaris AG10032, Chlorella sp. JK2, and Scenedesmus sp. JK10, were tested for nutrient removal under different light wavelengths (blue, green, red, and white) using filters in batch cultivation. Blue wavelength showed an average of 27% higher nutrient removal and at least 42% higher chemical oxygen demand removal compared with white light. Naturally, the specific growth rate of microalgae cultivated under blue wavelength was on average 10.8% higher than white wavelength. Similarly, lipid productivity was highest in blue wavelength, at least 46.8% higher than white wavelength, whereas FAME composition revealed a mild increase in oleic and palmitic acid levels. Cost analysis reveals that raceways treating wastewater and using monochromatic wavelength would decrease costs from 2.71 to 0.73 $/kg biomass. We prove that increasing both biomass and lipid productivity is possible through cost-effective approaches, thereby accelerating the commercialization of low-value products from microalgae, like biodiesel.