New Algae Treatment Technology Addresses Stricter Wastewater Regulations for Rural Iowa

Date
2017-04-11
Authors
Gangestad, Max
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Food Science and Human Nutrition (Gross and Keener)
Abstract

The US EPA and the Iowa DNR are enforcing new stricter wastewater treatment limits for communities throughout Iowa. The communities that these new permits affect the most are small rural communities because of the high costs associated with meeting the new limits. Our research, which is funded by ISU CIRAS and a private company Gross-Wen Technologies, is investigating a new algae based wastewater treatment technology. This technology is known as the revolving algal biofilm (RAB) treatment system and was invented by ISU researchers in 2012. Our current tests using a pilot scale RAB treatment system in Dallas Center, IA is a critical step before full-scale commercialization of the technology. In this pilot-scale research we have installed our pilot RAB reactor at the Dallas Center lagoon treatment system. Before the wastewater enters the lagoon, it first passes through the RAB system. Following RAB treatment, it enters the lagoon. We take measurements before and after the RAB to identify nitrogen and phosphorus removal. In the first three months of the pilot, we have seen, on average, a 90% reduction in ammonia, 50% reduction in total nitrogen, and 30% reduction in phosphorus. The algae biomass that is produced during treatment can be made into biofuels, bioplastics, and fertilizers

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