Project Title: Microalgal Phycoremediation of Waste Discharge Effluents
Supervisors: Dr. Nicolas Touzet, Steve Tonry
Funding Body: IT Sligo President’s Bursary Awards
Microalgae have attracted considerable attention worldwide in recent years due to their potential for generating high added-value bioproducts. They have also demonstrated potential for the biological removal of pollutants from the environment, a process known as phycoremediation. This project aims at combining these two concepts, whereby microalgae may fulfil the dual purpose of depurating wastes and of generating biomass that can be valorised (eg. bioenergy).
There is a limited knowledge about the physiological capacities of microalgae from Irish coastal waters. In this study, indigenous strains of microalgae from the Northwest of Ireland will be isolated and characterised via morphological and genetic methods. Then, their growth dynamics and biochemical composition will be determined under a variety of environmental conditions. The most promising strains will be further used for laboratory-scale phycoremediation trials to assess the efficacy of the microalgae in removing nutrients from waste effluents (landfill leachate and municipal wastewater). Finally, valorisation of the microalgal biomass generated will be attempted by subjecting it to anaerobic digestion so as to produce biomethane.