Feasibility of algal systems for sustainable wastewater treatment

Thinesh Selvaratnam, Ambica Pegallapati, Felly Montelya, Gabriela Rodriguez, Nagamany Nirmalakhandan, Peter Lammers, Wayne van Voorhies

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

28 Scopus citations


This paper proposes cultivation of algae in urban wastewaters as a sustainable approach for removing the nutrients from the wastewaters and generating energy from the biomass. The theoretical rationale of this proposal is that, the algal systems can produce nearly double the biomass per unit nutrient intake than bacterial systems and can generate nearly 20% more net energy. Preliminary experimental results are presented to demonstrate that a thermo-tolerant and acidophilic algal strain evaluated in this study-Galdieria sulphuraria, can grow well in primary settled urban wastewaters and can reduce nutrient levels to regulatory discharge levels at reasonable rates. Nutrient removal rates found in this study (4.70-5.0mgL-1d-1 of nitrogen and 1.5-1.7mgL-1d-1 of phosphate) are comparable to those by traditional methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-76
Number of pages6
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015
Externally publishedYes



  • Algal wastewater treatment
  • Galdieria sulphuraria
  • Nitrogen removal
  • Phosphate removal
  • Thermo-tolerant acidophilic strains

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment

Cite this

Selvaratnam, T., Pegallapati, A., Montelya, F., Rodriguez, G., Nirmalakhandan, N., Lammers, P., & van Voorhies, W. (2015). Feasibility of algal systems for sustainable wastewater treatment. Renewable Energy, 82, 71-76. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.renene.2014.07.061