Bioremediation of Domestic Wastewater


Domestic waste water treatment and remediation is an expensive process due to significant time and planning needed for successful treatment. Modern wastewater treatment plants are highly mechanized and expensive to build and maintain. In less economically developed parts of the world alternative methods of waste water treatment are required. Waste stabilization ponds, or lagoons, provide an ideal solution for wastewater treatment in developing countries and rural areas. These ponds facilitate the oxidation of organic matter through complex symbiotic relationships between bacterial consortiums and assimiliation of waste water nutrients by photoautorophic microalgae.

Open pond lagoon systems have many advantages over mechanicalized methods and are able to remove nitrogen and phosphorus to required EPA levels. Interestingly, nitrogen and phosphorus found in weak domestic wastewater are at an ideal level for microalgae cultivation and growth. Microalgae can grow to high densities by assimilating nitrogen and phosphorus, thus removing these inorganic nutrients from the wastewater.

Algal biomass can be processed chemically and biologically to produce high value products such as bioacetone, biobutanol, biodiesel, and biomethane. Microalgae as feedstocks provide high densities of carbohydrates (typically comprising glucose units), triacylglycerides and free fatty acids that can be used to produce biofuels and biodiesel. It has been demonstrated that microalgae can be a promising feedstock and will play a vital role in the future production of clean and renewable energy.

Waste stabilization ponds provide an active bioremediation system to clean domestic wastewater, and they can also produce microalgal feedstocks for the production of high value bioproducts. Interest in the use of microalgae will continue to grow as rural cities and developing countries look for sustainable and affordable ways to clean domestic wastewater. Processes where wastewater is bioremediated through heterotrophic and photoautotrophic organisms, and in turn high value bioproducts are generated have great potential to stimulate regional and local economic development.

Anabell Rose
Journal of Bioremediation & Biodegradation
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