Analysis of Microalgae Integration into Wastewater Treatment for Sustainable Biofuel Production
Event Type: In-Person
Speaker: Louisa Lombardo, Rutgers University
As global pressures mount to lower greenhouse gas emissions and lessen our dependence on fossil fuels, microalgae have long shown potential to serve as an alternative for a sustainable biofuel. Integrated into wastewater treatment plants, they can serve as a form of tertiary treatment to further reduce nutrient load, biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) and other contaminants before discharge to surrounding waterways. At the same time, wastewater supplies a feedstock for the microalgae to grow in biomass, allowing for biofuel creation via the lipid content the microalgae supply. Especially for biodiesel, the quality of the fuel produced is dependent on the fatty acid content, allowing for a high cetane number, increase in energy yield, and a greater oxidative stability in the end product. In order to promote the transition to a circular economy, use of microalgae as a fuel source can promote the cycling of nutrients, while emitting less greenhouse gases than conventional fossil fuels and having smaller land requirements than other biofuel generation types.
This presentation will discuss the feasibility of this alternative and the various requirements, benefits, and drawbacks for widespread implementation.