Iowa State University technology that improves the efficiency of wastewater reclamation using algae has gotten the attention of small Iowa communities and the largest wastewater treatment system in the world.
This reactor greatly improves the efficiency of carbon dioxide and sunlight absorption. We found that the biomass productivity is about 10 times higher than a conventional system,” said Zhiyou Wen, professor of food science and human nutrition who developed the system with Martin Gross, a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Crops Utilization Research.
The system uses vertical conveyor belts that are about 6 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide and revolve in a continual loop, cycling through the wastewater and air as multiple layers of algae grow on them. The algae absorbs phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater, along with carbon dioxide from the air. The idea is that algae produced from this new process can be harvested, pelletized and used as a sustainable fertilizer.
Algae absorbs phosphorus and nitrogen from the wastewater, along with carbon dioxide from the air. Wastewater is typically treated with a bacterial process that produces sludge, which creates odor and disposal issues.