Bioremediation for coal-fired power stations using macroalgae

Roberts, David A., Paul, Nicholas A., Bird, Michael I., and de Nys, Rocky (2015) Bioremediation for coal-fired power stations using macroalgae. Journal of Environmental Management, 153. pp. 25-32.

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Abstract

Macroalgae are a productive resource that can be cultured in metal-contaminated waste water for bioremediation but there have been no demonstrations of this biotechnology integrated with industry. Coal-fired power production is a water-limited industry that requires novel approaches to waste water treatment and recycling. In this study, a freshwater macroalga (genus Oedogonium) was cultivated in contaminated ash water amended with flue gas (containing 20% CO2) at an Australian coal-fired power station. The continuous process of macroalgal growth and intracellular metal sequestration reduced the concentrations of all metals in the treated ash water. Predictive modelling shows that the power station could feasibly achieve zero discharge of most regulated metals (Al, As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Ni, and Zn) in waste water by using the ash water dam for bioremediation with algal cultivation ponds rather than storage of ash water. Slow pyrolysis of the cultivated algae immobilised the accumulated metals in a recalcitrant C-rich biochar. While the algal biochar had higher total metal concentrations than the algae feedstock, the biochar had very low concentrations of leachable metals and therefore has potential for use as an ameliorant for low-fertility soils. This study demonstrates a bioremediation technology at a large scale for a water-limited industry that could be implemented at new or existing power stations, or during the decommissioning of older power stations.

Item ID: 37275
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: coal; bioremediation; waste water; carbon capture; algae; biochar
ISSN: 1095-8630
Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2015 03:58
FoR Codes: 10 TECHNOLOGY > 1002 Environmental Biotechnology > 100203 Bioremediation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960908 Mining Land and Water Management @ 100%
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