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Title: Seasonal treatment and economic evaluation of an algal wastewater system for energy and nutrient recovery

Abstract

Algal systems have been proposed for treating wastewater while simultaneously recovering energy and nutrients. In this study, an integrated system with algal treatment of municipal wastewater followed by hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) conversion and upgrading steps was evaluated. Pilot-scale treatment of primary clarified municipal wastewater effluent was evaluated in different seasons (cold, warm, and a transitional period in between) with different strains of algae selected for each season, and the warm season strain successfully met all local discharge regulations. The collected wastewater algae biomass was subjected to HTL at 300 and 350 °C and both energy and nutrient recoveries were much improved at the higher temperature. The transitional batch was found to have the highest biocrude oil yields, and its co-products had the highest nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) contents. Economic analysis of conversion processes informed by the observed HTL product yields was conducted. While this revealed that targeting biofuel products alone was not profitable, adding nutrient co-products (e.g., ammonium sulfate fertilizer), adjusting algae harvesting time, and incorporating component-specific conversion processes could substantially improve system economics. Overall, this study highlights connections between treatment and conversion processes, and demonstrates how these connections can be leveraged for more efficient resource recovery without compromising treatmentmore » operations.« less

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1];  [1];  [2];  [2]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt); Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (United States)
  2. Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt); New Mexico State Univ., Las Cruces, NM (United States)
  3. Engineering Research Center for Re-inventing the Nation's Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt); Colorado School of Mines, Golden, CO (United States); National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
National Renewable Energy Lab. (NREL), Golden, CO (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE); National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1562865
Report Number(s):
NREL/JA-5100-74863
Journal ID: ISSN 2053-1400; ESWRAR
Grant/Contract Number:  
AC36-08GO28308
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 5; Journal Issue: 9; Journal ID: ISSN 2053-1400
Publisher:
Royal Society of Chemistry
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
09 BIOMASS FUELS; 54 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES; algal treatment; municipal wastewater; hydrothermal liquefaction

Citation Formats

Li, Yalin, Slouka, Sydney A., Henkanatte-Gedera, Shanka M., Nirmalakhandan, Nagamany, and Strathmann, Timothy J. Seasonal treatment and economic evaluation of an algal wastewater system for energy and nutrient recovery. United States: N. p., 2019. Web. doi:10.1039/C9EW00242A.
Li, Yalin, Slouka, Sydney A., Henkanatte-Gedera, Shanka M., Nirmalakhandan, Nagamany, & Strathmann, Timothy J. Seasonal treatment and economic evaluation of an algal wastewater system for energy and nutrient recovery. United States. doi:10.1039/C9EW00242A.
Li, Yalin, Slouka, Sydney A., Henkanatte-Gedera, Shanka M., Nirmalakhandan, Nagamany, and Strathmann, Timothy J. Tue . "Seasonal treatment and economic evaluation of an algal wastewater system for energy and nutrient recovery". United States. doi:10.1039/C9EW00242A. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1562865.
@article{osti_1562865,
title = {Seasonal treatment and economic evaluation of an algal wastewater system for energy and nutrient recovery},
author = {Li, Yalin and Slouka, Sydney A. and Henkanatte-Gedera, Shanka M. and Nirmalakhandan, Nagamany and Strathmann, Timothy J.},
abstractNote = {Algal systems have been proposed for treating wastewater while simultaneously recovering energy and nutrients. In this study, an integrated system with algal treatment of municipal wastewater followed by hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL) conversion and upgrading steps was evaluated. Pilot-scale treatment of primary clarified municipal wastewater effluent was evaluated in different seasons (cold, warm, and a transitional period in between) with different strains of algae selected for each season, and the warm season strain successfully met all local discharge regulations. The collected wastewater algae biomass was subjected to HTL at 300 and 350 °C and both energy and nutrient recoveries were much improved at the higher temperature. The transitional batch was found to have the highest biocrude oil yields, and its co-products had the highest nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) contents. Economic analysis of conversion processes informed by the observed HTL product yields was conducted. While this revealed that targeting biofuel products alone was not profitable, adding nutrient co-products (e.g., ammonium sulfate fertilizer), adjusting algae harvesting time, and incorporating component-specific conversion processes could substantially improve system economics. Overall, this study highlights connections between treatment and conversion processes, and demonstrates how these connections can be leveraged for more efficient resource recovery without compromising treatment operations.},
doi = {10.1039/C9EW00242A},
journal = {Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology},
number = 9,
volume = 5,
place = {United States},
year = {2019},
month = {7}
}

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Cited by: 2 works
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Works referenced in this record:

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journal, September 2002

  • Gross, Wolfgang; Oesterhelt, Christine; Tischendorf, Gilbert
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Demonstration and Evaluation of Hybrid Microalgae Aqueous Conversion Systems for Biofuel Production
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Hydrothermal liquefaction of high- and low-lipid algae: Bio-crude oil chemistry
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A general kinetic model for the hydrothermal liquefaction of microalgae
journal, July 2014


Economic viability of multiple algal biorefining pathways and the impact of public policies
journal, January 2019


Nutrient recycling of aqueous phase for microalgae cultivation from the hydrothermal liquefaction process
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Integration of Microalgae Systems at Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants: Implications for Energy and Emission Balances
journal, October 2012

  • Menger-Krug, Eve; Niederste-Hollenberg, Jutta; Hillenbrand, Thomas
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Cultivation of microalgal Chlorella for biomass and lipid production using wastewater as nutrient resource
journal, May 2015


Thermochemical conversion of raw and defatted algal biomass via hydrothermal liquefaction and slow pyrolysis
journal, April 2012


Wastewater treatment high rate algal pond biomass for bio-crude oil production
journal, January 2017


Renewable diesel blendstocks produced by hydrothermal liquefaction of wet biowaste
journal, November 2018


Domestic Wastewater Treatment as a Net Energy Producer–Can This be Achieved?
journal, September 2011

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  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 45, Issue 17
  • DOI: 10.1021/es2014264

Complete Utilization of Spent Coffee Grounds To Produce Biodiesel, Bio-Oil, and Biochar
journal, August 2013

  • Vardon, Derek R.; Moser, Bryan R.; Zheng, Wei
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  • DOI: 10.1021/sc400145w

A quantitative kinetic model for the fast and isothermal hydrothermal liquefaction of Nannochloropsis sp.
journal, August 2016


Process development for hydrothermal liquefaction of algae feedstocks in a continuous-flow reactor
journal, October 2013


Maximizing recovery of energy and nutrients from urban wastewaters
journal, June 2016


Mechanisms of catalyst deactivation
journal, April 2001


Phosphorus and nitrogen recycle following algal bio-crude production via continuous hydrothermal liquefaction
journal, September 2017


Co-liquefaction of swine manure and mixed-culture algal biomass from a wastewater treatment system to produce bio-crude oil
journal, September 2014


Algal-based, single-step treatment of urban wastewaters
journal, August 2015


Amino acid composition and nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors for animal and plant foods
journal, June 1990

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  • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 38, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1021/jf00096a011

Coupling hydrothermal liquefaction and anaerobic digestion for energy valorization from model biomass feedstocks
journal, June 2017


Hydrothermal liquefaction of mixed-culture algal biomass from wastewater treatment system into bio-crude oil
journal, January 2014


Ammonium-Nitrogen Recovery from Wastewater by Struvite Crystallization Technology
journal, November 2015


Prediction of microalgae hydrothermal liquefaction products from feedstock biochemical composition
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Techno-economic uncertainty quantification of algal-derived biocrude via hydrothermal liquefaction
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Predicting phosphorus bioavailability from high-ash biochars
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Comprehensive techno-economic analysis of wastewater-based algal biofuel production: A case study
journal, July 2016


Comparable Nutrient Uptake across Diel Cycles by Three Distinct Phototrophic Communities
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Wastewater treatment high rate algal ponds for biofuel production
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The potential of sustainable algal biofuel production using wastewater resources
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Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of Wastewater-Based Algal Biofuels
journal, September 2014

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Distributions of carbon and nitrogen in the products from hydrothermal liquefaction of low-lipid microalgae
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Gene Transfer from Bacteria and Archaea Facilitated Evolution of an Extremophilic Eukaryote
journal, March 2013


Improving the circular economy via hydrothermal processing of high-density waste plastics
journal, October 2017


Techno-economic and life-cycle assessment of an attached growth algal biorefinery
journal, November 2016


Removal of dissolved organic carbon and nutrients from urban wastewaters by Galdieria sulphuraria: Laboratory to field scale demonstration
journal, June 2017


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  • DOI: 10.1039/C6GC03294J

Quantitative Evaluation of an Integrated System for Valorization of Wastewater Algae as Bio-oil, Fuel Gas, and Fertilizer Products
journal, September 2018

  • Li, Yalin; Tarpeh, William A.; Nelson, Kara L.
  • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 52, Issue 21
  • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b04035

Effect of ash on hydrothermal liquefaction of high-ash content algal biomass
journal, July 2017


A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae
journal, October 2018

  • Leow, Shijie; Shoener, Brian D.; Li, Yalin
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  • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b03663

Influence of solids residence time and carbon storage on nitrogen and phosphorus recovery by microalgae across diel cycles
journal, September 2017


Towards energy neutral wastewater treatment: methodology and state of the art
journal, January 2014

  • Gao, Han; Scherson, Yaniv D.; Wells, George F.
  • Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, Vol. 16, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1039/C4EM00069B

Recovery of agricultural nutrients from biorefineries
journal, September 2016


Nitrogen supply is an important driver of sustainable microalgae biofuel production
journal, March 2013


The poisoning of noble metal catalysts by phosphorus compounds—I chemical processes, mechanisms and changes in the catalyst
journal, January 1980


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    Works referencing / citing this record:

    Predicting phosphorus bioavailability from high-ash biochars
    journal, February 2012


    The poisoning of noble metal catalysts by phosphorus compounds—I chemical processes, mechanisms and changes in the catalyst
    journal, January 1980


    Nutrient recycling of aqueous phase for microalgae cultivation from the hydrothermal liquefaction process
    journal, May 2012


    Process development for hydrothermal liquefaction of algae feedstocks in a continuous-flow reactor
    journal, October 2013


    Removal of dissolved organic carbon and nutrients from urban wastewaters by Galdieria sulphuraria: Laboratory to field scale demonstration
    journal, June 2017


    Effect of ash on hydrothermal liquefaction of high-ash content algal biomass
    journal, July 2017


    Phosphorus and nitrogen recycle following algal bio-crude production via continuous hydrothermal liquefaction
    journal, September 2017


    Techno-economic uncertainty quantification of algal-derived biocrude via hydrothermal liquefaction
    journal, May 2019


    Co-liquefaction of swine manure and mixed-culture algal biomass from a wastewater treatment system to produce bio-crude oil
    journal, September 2014


    Hydrothermal liquefaction of high- and low-lipid algae: Bio-crude oil chemistry
    journal, November 2017


    Economic viability of multiple algal biorefining pathways and the impact of public policies
    journal, January 2019


    The potential of sustainable algal biofuel production using wastewater resources
    journal, January 2011


    Wastewater treatment high rate algal ponds for biofuel production
    journal, January 2011


    Thermochemical conversion of raw and defatted algal biomass via hydrothermal liquefaction and slow pyrolysis
    journal, April 2012


    Hydrothermal liquefaction of mixed-culture algal biomass from wastewater treatment system into bio-crude oil
    journal, January 2014


    A general kinetic model for the hydrothermal liquefaction of microalgae
    journal, July 2014


    Cultivation of microalgal Chlorella for biomass and lipid production using wastewater as nutrient resource
    journal, May 2015


    Algal-based, single-step treatment of urban wastewaters
    journal, August 2015


    Recovery of agricultural nutrients from biorefineries
    journal, September 2016


    Comprehensive techno-economic analysis of wastewater-based algal biofuel production: A case study
    journal, July 2016


    A quantitative kinetic model for the fast and isothermal hydrothermal liquefaction of Nannochloropsis sp.
    journal, August 2016


    Techno-economic and life-cycle assessment of an attached growth algal biorefinery
    journal, November 2016


    Wastewater treatment high rate algal pond biomass for bio-crude oil production
    journal, January 2017


    Coupling hydrothermal liquefaction and anaerobic digestion for energy valorization from model biomass feedstocks
    journal, June 2017


    Maximizing recovery of energy and nutrients from urban wastewaters
    journal, June 2016


    Nitrogen supply is an important driver of sustainable microalgae biofuel production
    journal, March 2013


    Improving the circular economy via hydrothermal processing of high-density waste plastics
    journal, October 2017


    Influence of solids residence time and carbon storage on nitrogen and phosphorus recovery by microalgae across diel cycles
    journal, September 2017


    Mechanisms of catalyst deactivation
    journal, April 2001


    Characterization of a non-thermophilic strain of the red algal genus Galdieria isolated from Soos (Czech Republic)
    journal, September 2002

    • Gross, Wolfgang; Oesterhelt, Christine; Tischendorf, Gilbert
    • European Journal of Phycology, Vol. 37, Issue 3
    • DOI: 10.1017/s0967026202003773

    A Unified Modeling Framework to Advance Biofuel Production from Microalgae
    journal, October 2018

    • Leow, Shijie; Shoener, Brian D.; Li, Yalin
    • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 52, Issue 22
    • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b03663

    Quantitative Evaluation of an Integrated System for Valorization of Wastewater Algae as Bio-oil, Fuel Gas, and Fertilizer Products
    journal, September 2018

    • Li, Yalin; Tarpeh, William A.; Nelson, Kara L.
    • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 52, Issue 21
    • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b04035

    Comparable Nutrient Uptake across Diel Cycles by Three Distinct Phototrophic Communities
    journal, November 2018

    • Fedders, Anna C.; DeBellis, Jennifer L.; Bradley, Ian M.
    • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 53, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.8b05874

    Demonstration and Evaluation of Hybrid Microalgae Aqueous Conversion Systems for Biofuel Production
    journal, February 2019


    Domestic Wastewater Treatment as a Net Energy Producer–Can This be Achieved?
    journal, September 2011

    • McCarty, Perry L.; Bae, Jaeho; Kim, Jeonghwan
    • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 45, Issue 17
    • DOI: 10.1021/es2014264

    Integration of Microalgae Systems at Municipal Wastewater Treatment Plants: Implications for Energy and Emission Balances
    journal, October 2012

    • Menger-Krug, Eve; Niederste-Hollenberg, Jutta; Hillenbrand, Thomas
    • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 46, Issue 21
    • DOI: 10.1021/es301967y

    Life Cycle Environmental Impacts of Wastewater-Based Algal Biofuels
    journal, September 2014

    • Mu, Dongyan; Min, Min; Krohn, Brian
    • Environmental Science & Technology, Vol. 48, Issue 19
    • DOI: 10.1021/es5027689

    Amino acid composition and nitrogen-to-protein conversion factors for animal and plant foods
    journal, June 1990

    • Sosulski, Frank W.; Imafidon, Gilbert I.
    • Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Vol. 38, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1021/jf00096a011

    Complete Utilization of Spent Coffee Grounds To Produce Biodiesel, Bio-Oil, and Biochar
    journal, August 2013

    • Vardon, Derek R.; Moser, Bryan R.; Zheng, Wei
    • ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering, Vol. 1, Issue 10
    • DOI: 10.1021/sc400145w

    Chemistry: Reuse water pollutants
    journal, December 2015

    • Li, Wen-Wei; Yu, Han-Qing; Rittmann, Bruce E.
    • Nature, Vol. 528, Issue 7580
    • DOI: 10.1038/528029a

    Renewable diesel blendstocks produced by hydrothermal liquefaction of wet biowaste
    journal, November 2018


    Distributions of carbon and nitrogen in the products from hydrothermal liquefaction of low-lipid microalgae
    journal, January 2011

    • Yu, Guo; Zhang, Yuanhui; Schideman, Lance
    • Energy & Environmental Science, Vol. 4, Issue 11
    • DOI: 10.1039/c1ee01541a

    Towards energy neutral wastewater treatment: methodology and state of the art
    journal, January 2014

    • Gao, Han; Scherson, Yaniv D.; Wells, George F.
    • Environ. Sci.: Processes Impacts, Vol. 16, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1039/c4em00069b

    Prediction of microalgae hydrothermal liquefaction products from feedstock biochemical composition
    journal, January 2015

    • Leow, Shijie; Witter, John R.; Vardon, Derek R.
    • Green Chemistry, Vol. 17, Issue 6
    • DOI: 10.1039/c5gc00574d

    Quantitative multiphase model for hydrothermal liquefaction of algal biomass
    journal, January 2017

    • Li, Yalin; Leow, Shijie; Fedders, Anna C.
    • Green Chemistry, Vol. 19, Issue 4
    • DOI: 10.1039/c6gc03294j

    Ammonium-Nitrogen Recovery from Wastewater by Struvite Crystallization Technology
    journal, November 2015


    Gene Transfer from Bacteria and Archaea Facilitated Evolution of an Extremophilic Eukaryote
    journal, March 2013