Bioremediation of aluminium from the waste water of a conventional water treatment plant using the freshwater macroalga Oedogonium

Roberts, David A., Shiels, Laura, Tickle, Julian, de Nys, Rocky, and Paul, Nicholas A. (2018) Bioremediation of aluminium from the waste water of a conventional water treatment plant using the freshwater macroalga Oedogonium. Water, 10 (5). 626.

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Conventional water treatment processes use aluminium sulphate (alum) as a coagulant in the production of potable water. While alum is an inexpensive and reliable means of treating water, the process generates waste water containing dissolved Al. This waste water is primarily dealt with via on-site retention. In this study we investigate the cultivation of the freshwater macroalga Oedogonium as a means to sequester dissolved Al from waste water from a conventional water treatment plant. Furthermore, we examine the use of CO2 to manipulate the pH of cultivation as a means of enhancing the sequestration of Al by either increasing the productivity of Oedogonium or increasing the bioavailability of Al in the waste water. The relative bioavailability of Al under conditions of CO2 and no-CO2 provision was contrasted by comparing Al uptake by Diffusive Gradients in Thin Films (DGTs). Oedogonium was able to grow rapidly in the waste water (12 g dry weight m−2 day−1) while consistently sequestering Al. The Oedogonium-treated waste water had a sufficiently low Al concentration that it could be used in unrestricted irrigation in the surrounding region. When CO2 was added to the waste water containing concentrations of Al up to 8 mg L−1, there was a slight increase (~10%) in the rate of sequestration of Al by Oedogonium relative to waste water not receiving CO2. This was due to two concurrent processes. The provision of CO2 increased the productivity of Oedogonium by 15% and the bioavailability of Al by up to 200%, as measured by the DGTs. Despite this strong effect of CO2 on Al bioavailability, the increase in Al sequestration by Oedogonium when CO2 was provided was modest (~10%). Al was sequestered by Oedogonium to concentrations below permissible limits for discharge without the need for the addition CO2. The cultivation of Oedogonium in waste water from conventional treatments plants can simultaneously treat waste water for re-use and provide a biomass source for value-added applications.

Item ID: 53816
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2073-4441
Keywords: conventional water treatment; bioremediation; macroalgae; aluminium; alum; coagulation; flocculent
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© 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (

Date Deposited: 26 Jul 2018 02:36
FoR Codes: 30 AGRICULTURAL, VETERINARY AND FOOD SCIENCES > 3005 Fisheries sciences > 300501 Aquaculture @ 50%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4103 Environmental biotechnology > 410303 Bioremediation @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960912 Urban and Industrial Water Management @ 100%
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