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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

The use of natural organic flocculants for harvesting microalgae grown in municipal wastewater at different culture densities

Niemi, Calle; Gentili, Francesco G.


Harvesting microalgae from liquid culture is a difficult issue to solve and is most commonly done through settling. However, settling is a slow process on its own and generally needs to be induced chemically or by introducing stress to the culture. Polymeric, cationic substances, such as cationised starch and chitosan, are often used for flocculation and settling. These large, positively charged molecules form large clusters with suspended particles in the liquid medium. In the present study, three natural organic flocculants (cationic starch, chitosan and acacia tannin S5T) were tested to harvest microalgal cultures grown in wastewater. Two microalgal species, one strain of Chlorella vulgaris and one strain of Scenedesmus obliquus, were cultured in municipal wastewater for different lengths of time, and settled using either cationic starch, chitosan or acacia tannin S5T. Results indicated that S5T worked with approximately the same efficiency in the two assayed species, although it requires a relatively high dosage to function (about 300 mg L-1), while the other two flocculants varied from species to species.

Published in

Physiologia Plantarum
2021, Volume: 173, number: 2, pages: 536-542
Publisher: WILEY