Water and the Circular Economy
Project Round
Project Number
8OS - 8085
Research Organisation
Flinders University

Algae for Energy: a Wastewater Solution

Project Overview

The potential for wastewater grown microalgae to be a source of energy and feedstock was recognised following the oil crisis of the 1970’s, however, the potential was never realised due to the subsequent drop in oil price and the continued pursuance of the ‘business as usual’ model. There is now considerable interest in microalgae as sources of liquid biofuels.

One of the action areas of Melbourne Water’s Greenhouse and Energy Strategy is to investigate cost effective onsite renewable energy generation options.  Algae production in wastewater for renewable energy generation (biogas or electricity) is an innovative concept. The process has significant potential to address the ‘energy-water nexus’ with a new renewable energy source for water businesses, while also being aligned to their core business of treating water.

This project would provide the evaluation of the initial stage of a system which may be able to recover not just energy, but phosphorous and other nutrients. Specifically, this project aims to:

  • Design, operate and evaluate the performance of a demonstration algal pond for integration into a wastewater treatment plant for the production of microalgae, biomass energy and wastewater treatment, using secondary influent;
  • Evaluate pond design and understand climatic impacts and optimal pond management;
  • Provide ‘real world’ data on microalgal biomass production, energy yield, nutrient recovery to enable development of plausible scenarios to assist the life cycle assessment of integrating this technology into wastewater treatment plants operated by water utilities; and
  • A microalgae production demonstration asset which can be integrated into the full algae to energy process for systems evaluation.

Supporting documents