What is it about?

Climate change and pollution are the biggest threats of our time. Carbon dioxide (CO2) emission is a key factor causing global warming and climate change. Microalgae photobioreactors can capture and store atmospheric CO2. This can help limit global warming. Microalgae can reduce nutrient enrichment or eutrophication of wastewater as well. This prevents excess nutrients from reaching major water bodies and causing pollution. But no system has so far combined these dual capacities of microalgae. The authors of this paper have addressed this gap. They have developed a photobioreactor that uses the alga, Chlorella vulgaris. This new system can absorb CO2 and remove nutrients from municipal wastewater at the same time.

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Why is it important?

Global warming and eutrophication are the two major challenges our environment is facing. Solving these problems can address climate change and pollution concerns. Microalgae can absorb nutrients from wastewater. They can convert CO2 into biomass as well for use as biofuel. Combining these potentials of microalgae in photobioreactors can address pollution problems. The authors of this paper have achieved this feat. The system they have developed traps and stores CO2 from industrial sources. It also absorbs nutrients from wastewater. A single system to combat two environmental problems ! The authors report the optimal conditions for this system to work. They suggest that the system works best when incubated in open air for 24 days. Besides, using 78-83% dilution of wastewater leads to good algal growth. This then maximizes CO2 absorption. KEY TAKEAWAY: Microalgae in photobioreactors can capture and store CO2. They can absorb nutrients and clean up wastewater as well. These capacities can be combined in a single system. The present study proposes such a system that uses the alga Chlorella vulgaris. This system can help solve major climate change problems.

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This page is a summary of: Optimizing a Municipal Wastewater-based Chlorella vulgaris Photobioreactor for Sequestering Atmospheric CO2, Bulletin Southern California Academy of Sciences, April 2019, Southern California Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.3160/0038-3872-118.1.42.
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