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The Rotating Photo-Bioreactor as a Method for Removing Soluble Nutrients from Waters

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Paper number  131620719,  2013 Kansas City, Missouri, July 21 - July 24, 2013. (doi: @2013
Authors:   Dennis A Burke
Keywords:   Algae Cyanobacteria photo-bioreactor Ammonia removal RPB Nutrient Recovery

Abstract. The adverse impacts of nitrogen include the production of fine particulate matter that is responsible for atmospheric haze and increased human mortality, increased nitrate levels in groundwater, acidification of surface water, harmful toxin producing algae blooms, hypoxia in coastal waters, forestry decline, and loss of terrestrial biodiversity. Solutions to the “nitrogen problem” have primarily been through the use of engineered denitrification systems that increase the NOx, N2O, and fine particulate matter emissions to the atmosphere. Technology is required to economically remove soluble nitrogen and phosphorus nutrients discharged from waste treatment or bioenergy facilities. Conversion of soluble nutrients to particulate matter, such as micro and macro algae is an attractive method for removing soluble nutrients. However, the limited productivity, ammonia toxicity, and cost of harvesting have prevented widespread adoption. The Rotating Photo Bioreactor (RPB) is an improved method of producing biomass for energy production, as well as removing and concentrating nutrients from waste streams and/or eutrophic waters. The bioreactor is capable of providing high surface to volume ratios (S/V) for maximum light exposure, photoautotrophic growth, gas transfer, and oxygen production. The process demonstration substantiated that the rotating photo-bioreactor can be used to remove soluble nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium from waste streams and concentrate those nutrients within the accumulated biomass for subsequent harvest by a variety of inexpensive harvesting techniques.

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