Recycling a portion of gravity harvested algae promoted the dominance of a rapidly settling colonial alga, Pediastrum boryanum (P. boryanum) and improved both biomass productivity and settleability in High Rate Algal Pond (HRAP) treating domestic wastewater. The effect of algal recycling rate on HRAP performance was investigated using 12 replicate mesocosms (18 L) that were operated semi-continuously under ambient conditions. Three experiments were conducted during different seasons with each experiment lasting up to 36 days. Recycling 10%, 25%, and 50% of the ‘mass’ of daily algal production all increased total biomass concentration in the mesocosms. However, recycling >10% reduced the organic content (volatile suspended solids (VSS)) of the mesocosm biomass from 83% to 68% and did not further increase biomass productivity (based on VSS). This indicates that if a HRAP is operated with a low algal concentration and does not utilise all the available sunlight, algal recycling increases the algal concentration up to an optimum level, resulting in higher algal biomass productivity. Recycling 10% of the daily algal production not only increased biomass productivity by ∼40%, but increased biomass settleability by ∼25%, which was probably a consequence of the ∼30% increase in P. boryanum dominance in the mesocosms compared with controls without recycling.

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