Combined yeast and microalgal cultivation in a pilot-scale raceway pond for urban wastewater treatment and potential biodiesel production
A mixed culture of oleaginous yeast Lipomyces starkeyi and wastewater native microalgae (mostly Scenedesmus sp. and Chlorella sp.) was performed to enhance lipid and biomass production from urban wastewaters. A 400 L raceway pond, operating outdoors, was designed and used for biomass cultivation. Microalgae and yeast were inoculated into the cultivation pond with a 2:1 inoculum ratio. Their concentrations were monitored for 14 continuous days of batch cultivation. Microalgal growth presented a 3-day initial lag-phase, while yeast growth occurred in the first few days. Yeast activity during the microalgal lag-phase enhanced microalgal biomass productivity, corresponding to 31.4 mgTSS m−2 d−1. Yeast growth was limited by low concentrations in wastewater of easily assimilated organic substrates. Organic carbon was absorbed in the first 3 days with a 3.7 mgC L−1 d−1 removal rate. Complete nutrient removal occurred during microalgal linear growth with 2.9 mgN L−1 d−1 and 0.96 mgP L−1 d−1 removal rates. Microalgal photosynthetic activity induced high pH and dissolved oxygen values resulted in natural bactericidal and antifungal activity. A 15% lipid/dry weight was measured at the end of the cultivation time. Fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) analysis indicated that the lipids were mainly composed of arachidic acid.
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