Nitrification and microalgae cultivation for two-stage biological nutrient valorization from source separated urine

Urine contains the majority of nutrients in urban wastewaters and is an ideal nutrient recovery target. In this study, stabilization of real undiluted urine through nitrification and subsequent microalgae cultivation were explored as strategy for biological nutrient recovery. A nitrifying inoculum screening revealed a commercial aquaculture inoculum to have the highest halotolerance. This inoculum was compared with municipal activated sludge for the start-up of two nitrification membrane bioreactors. Complete nitrification of undiluted urine was achieved in both systems at a conductivity of 75mScm?1 and loading rate above 450mgNL?1 d?1. The halotolerant inoculum shortened the start-up time with 54%. Nitrite oxidizers showed faster salt adaptation and Nitrobacter spp. became the dominant nitrite oxidizers. Nitrified urine as growth medium for Arthrospira platensis demonstrated superior growth compared to untreated urine and resulted in a high protein content of 62%. This two-stage strategy is therefore a promising approach for biological nutrient recovery.

» Author: Joeri Coppens, Ralph Lindeboom, Maarten Muys, Wout Coessens, Abbas Alloul, Ken Meerbergen, Bart Lievens, Peter Clauwaert, Nico Boon, Siegfried E. Vlaeminck

» Reference: Bioresource Technology, Volume 211

» Publication Date: 01/07/2016

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This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement N° 690103