Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Civil and Environmental Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Tryg Lundquist


While treating domestic wastewater, algae can be grown and harvested for biofuel production. Water is a vital resource and it is imperative to conserve and reuse as much as possible. Several pilot and lab scale experiments were conducted to further research into a full scale wastewater treatment and biofuel production facility. This thesis will include these topics: nitrogen and phosphorus concentrations of clarified wastewater pond feed, nitrogen and phosphorus transformations by algae, and the potential of algae cell disruption technologies to increase nutrient solubilization.

The pilot scale experiments were conducted using nine 33 m2, 0.3 m deep multi-culture raceway algae ponds being continuously mixed. These ponds were setup in triplicates and fed municipal wastewater in the form of primary clarifier effluent. The three experiments conducted using these pilot scale ponds were: grab and 24-hour composite influent comparison, nitrogen and phosphorus of various hydraulic residence times (HRTs), and nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient depletion with water recycle.

The grab and 24-hour composite comparison was conducted from July 30 to December 3, 2014 and compared the dissolved reactive phosphorus (DRP) and total ammonia nitrogen (TAN) concentrations of the two sample types. Equations were made to convert from grab to 24-hour concentrations. The sample types for both DRP and TAN were on average within 10% and essentially the same.

A comparison of data from ponds operating at different HRTs was collected from October 30 and November 6, 2013 and October 29 and November 5, 2014. There were linear correlations between different HRTs and both soluble nitrogen and DRP. Equations were made to calculate the expected removal of ponds using the HRT.

The nutrient depletion with water recycle experiment was conducted during October 15-29, 2015. Soluble nitrogen removal was linear with a rate of 1.5 mg-N/L-day and required 14 days to drop below 5 mg-N/L in the ponds. DRP removal was also linear with a rate of 0.18 mg-P/L-day.

The algae cell disruption solubilization experiments were conducted using homogenization, sonication, autoclaving, and boiling pretreatment technologies. Algae harvested from the pilot ponds was anaerobically digested and then aerobically digested in an attempt to reuse nutrients for continued growth. It was found that there was no significant difference between the pretreated and non-pretreated digested samples.

Keywords: algae, raceway pond, nutrient transformation, anaerobic digestion, aerobic digestion, assimilation, volatilization, nitrogen, phosphorus, pretreatment of algae, nutrient resolubilization, nutrient solubilization