Microalgae-based livestock wastewater treatment (MbWT) as a circular bioeconomy approach: Enhancement of biomass productivity, pollutant removal and high-value compound production.J Environ Manage. 2022 Apr 15; 308:114612.JE
The intensive livestock activities that are carried out worldwide to feed the growing human population have led to significant environmental problems, such as soil degradation, surface and groundwater pollution. Livestock wastewater (LW) contains high loads of organic matter, nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P). These compounds can promote cultural eutrophication of water bodies and pose environmental and human hazards. Therefore, humanity faces an enormous challenge to adequately treat LW and avoid the overexploitation of natural resources. This can be accomplished through circular bioeconomy approaches, which aim to achieve sustainable production using biological resources, such as LW, as feedstock. Circular bioeconomy uses innovative processes to produce biomaterials and bioenergy, while lowering the consumption of virgin resources. Microalgae-based wastewater treatment (MbWT) has recently received special attention due to its low energy demand, the robust capacity of microalgae to grow under different environmental conditions and the possibility to recover and transform wastewater nutrients into highly valuable bioactive compounds. Some of the high-value products that may be obtained through MbWT are biomass and pigments for human food and animal feed, nutraceuticals, biofuels, polyunsaturated fatty acids, carotenoids, phycobiliproteins and fertilizers. This article reviews recent advances in MbWT of LW (including swine, cattle and poultry wastewater). Additionally, the most significant factors affecting nutrient removal and biomass productivity in MbWT are addressed, including: (1) microbiological aspects, such as the microalgae strain used for MbWT and the interactions between microbial populations; (2) physical parameters, such as temperature, light intensity and photoperiods; and (3) chemical parameters, such as the C/N ratio, pH and the presence of inhibitory compounds. Finally, different strategies to enhance nutrient removal and biomass productivity, such as acclimation, UV mutagenesis and multiple microalgae culture stages (including monocultures and multicultures) are discussed.