Applications of microalgal biofilms for wastewater treatment and bioenergy production

Pereira Miranda, A, Ramkumar, N, Andriotis, C, Holtkemeier, T, Yasmin, A, Rochfort, S, Wlodkowic, D, Roddick, F, Morrison, P, Spangenberg, G, Lai, B, Sanjukta, S and Mouradov, A 2017, 'Applications of microalgal biofilms for wastewater treatment and bioenergy production', Biotechnology for Biofuels, vol. 10, 120, pp. 1-23.

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

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Title Applications of microalgal biofilms for wastewater treatment and bioenergy production
Author(s) Pereira Miranda, A
Ramkumar, N
Andriotis, C
Holtkemeier, T
Yasmin, A
Rochfort, S
Wlodkowic, D
Roddick, F
Morrison, P
Spangenberg, G
Lai, B
Sanjukta, S
Mouradov, A
Year 2017
Journal name Biotechnology for Biofuels
Volume number 10
Article Number 120
Start page 1
End page 23
Total pages 23
Publisher BioMed Central
Abstract Background: Microalgae have shown clear advantages for the production of biofuels compared with energy crops. Apart from their high growth rates and substantial lipid/triacylglycerol yields, microalgae can grow in wastewaters (animal, municipal and mining wastewaters) efficiently removing their primary nutrients (C, N, and P), heavy metals and micropollutants, and they do not compete with crops for arable lands. However, fundamental barriers to the industrial application of microalgae for biofuel production still include high costs of removing the algae from the water and the water from the algae which can account for up to 30–40% of the total cost of biodiesel production. Algal biofilms are becoming increasingly popular as a strategy for the concentration of microalgae, making harvesting/dewatering easier and cheaper. Results: We have isolated and characterized a number of natural microalgal biofilms from freshwater, saline lakes and marine habitats. Structurally, these biofilms represent complex consortia of unicellular and multicellular, photosynthetic and heterotrophic inhabitants, such as cyanobacteria, microalgae, diatoms, bacteria, and fungi. Bioflm #52 was used as feedstock for bioenergy production. Dark fermentation of its biomass by Enterobacter cloacae DT-1 led to the production of 2.4 mol of H2/mol of reduced sugar. The levels and compositions of saturated, monosaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids in Bioflm #52 were target-wise modifed through the promotion of the growth of selected individual photosynthetic inhabitants. Photosynthetic components isolated from different biofilms were used for tailoring of novel biofilms designed for (i) treatment of specifc types of wastewaters, such as reverse osmosis concentrate, (ii) compositions of total fatty acids with a new degree of unsaturation and (iii) bio-focculation and concentration of commercial microalgal cells. Treatment of different types of wastewaters with biofilms showed a reduction in the concentrations of key nutrients, such as phosphates, ammonia, nitrates, selenium and heavy metals. Conclusions: This multidisciplinary study showed the new potential of natural bioflms, their individual photosynthetic inhabitants and assembled new algal/cyanobacterial bioflms as the next generation of bioenergy feedstocks which can grow using wastewaters as a cheap source of key nutrients
Subject Environmental Management
Keyword(s) Biofilms
Wastewater treatment
DOI - identifier 10.1186/s13068-017-0798-9
Copyright notice © The Author(s) 2017. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.
ISSN 1754-6834
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 26 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
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