Abstract

Many rural areas of Latin America and the Caribbean region (LAC) are economically depressed. Rural sewage treatment in most areas of LAC is deficient or non-existent. Consequently, the possibility of generating economic revenue from treated sewage is an attractive option for deprived areas of developing countries. Given its peculiar characteristics, rural sewage may be coupled with biological systems such as algae for nutrient cycling. Acceptable algae growth and nutrient elimination were obtained from rural sewage whose treatment may have fallen short of current disposal standards. In this study, aerobic systems working on an 8-month cycle at three different volumetric loading rates (Bv) were assessed in relation to the lifetime growth of three algae strains native to Ecuador. Results indicate Chlorella sp. M2 as the optimal algal strain, with the highest growth rate at Bv of 1 g COD L−1 d1 and a removal of organic-N (30%), PO43–-P (87%) and NH4+-N (95%). Concomitantly, the kinetic constants of the sewage resulted in a low biomass yield coefficient, making the proposed system highly suitable for developing countries. Finally, the proposed partial recovery stream method, combining nutrient recovery with economic resource generation, appears to contain great potential.

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