Carpet industry wastewater able to grow algae

By Ryan C. Christiansen | July 14, 2008
Web exclusive posted July 29, 2008 at 2:20 p.m. CST

Nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients that are present in carpet industry wastewater may provide a perfect environment for growing algae, according to researchers in the University of Georgia Biorefining and Carbon Cycling Program. They are examining whether that wastewater, which is plentiful in nearby Dalton, Ga., can be leveraged to grow oil-producing algae, which would ultimately be used as a feedstock for biodiesel production, according to Senthil Chinnasamy, postdoctoral research associate in the biological and agricultural engineering department at the university.

Chinnasamy said the carpet industry in Dalton, a city which has been dubbed "The Carpet Capital of the World," produces 30 million to 35 million gallons of wastewater daily. During the past year, university researchers have been working with the local power company Dalton Utilities to assess the potential for using treated and raw wastewater from the utility to cultivate microalgae as feedstock for biodiesel. Using wastewater samples from the utility, Chinnasamy and his colleagues have been isolating natural strains of microalgae from the wastewater to look for microorganisms that have good biomass, lipid, and carbohydrate production potential. Those microorganisms are then grown in a mixed culture. Initial research indicates that the carpet industry wastewater is a good candidate for being used in feedstock production for biodiesel, Chinnasamy said.

The next step for university researchers is to conduct a study using a pilot-scale facility with a total capacity of 5,000 liters and algae bioreactors to produce a minimum of two pounds of dry algal biomass per day. The researchers will also look at the potential for using other industrial and agricultural wastewaters for algae production.
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