Abstract

Methane production from the algal biomass cultivated in a laboratory scale continuous photobioreactor (PBR) using sewage was evaluated in the present work. During the preliminary experiments, algal biomass reached up to 1.69 ± 0.35 g L–1 in 12 days' growth period. Besides, 65 to 100% removal in concentrations of total dissolved phosphorus (TDP), nitrate nitrogen (NO3–N), total ammoniacal nitrogen (TAN) and soluble chemical oxygen demand (sCOD) was also recorded. The sCOD removal in the reactor was 100%, whereas removal of TDP, NO3–N and TAN were up to 75, 40 and 92%, respectively. Upon anaerobic digestion, the fresh algal biomass showed methane yield of 180 mL g–1 VSfed. Further, algal biomass was stored under natural conditions in open containers (aerobic conditions) in darkness at room temperature (27–30 °C) for 72 h. Interestingly, >48% COD solubilization from algal biomass was observed during storage. Pretreatment through natural storage was further confirmed with qualitative observations including scanning electron and fluorescence microscopic analysis. Moreover, higher methane yield (284.38 mL g–1 VSfed) was observed from the samples stored for 60 h. Thus, natural storage for a designated period may be recommended as a prerequisite stage in the process of methane production from wastewater-grown algal biomass.

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