The term water in today’s scenario seems cost-intensive, huge amounts are being spent to treat the household, agro-industrial wastewater containing large quantities of phosphorus and nitrogen, that can cause eutrophication and destructive consequences for the aquatic life if left untreated, wastewater treatment is a process that knows how to drain the pockets, it is generally observed that the cost of treatment doubles for each additional step.
An effective and relatively less expensive process or solution to treat the wastewater is the need of the hour so phycoremediation proposes its candidature and nominates itself to fit the above-described criteria.
What is phycoremediation?
It can be simply defined as the use of algae for the removal of pollutants including the nutrients from the wastewater, microalgae are photosynthetic microorganisms that consume carbon dioxide and colonize in the presence of moisture and nutrients and it lessens the threat of eutrophication and poisonous mixing. These microorganisms utilize the nutrients for their growth hence removing the excess quantities.
The microalgae are favored for the bioremediation process because it has photosynthetic proficiency and it can quickly take up the nutrients, some of the benefits of using this process are listed below:
- Algae in use feed on nitrogen and phosphorus to build biomass and contributes to the self-purification of water.
- An attractive benefit of using algae for bioremediation is that it produces oxygen in the photosynthesis process and the treatment contributes to the waters’ oxygen supply.
- Using bio-synthesis of algae hydrogen can be produced.
- The use of microalgae increases the pH level of the water and generated a hostile environment for the pathogenic organisms eventually eliminating the pathogen.
- Algae form a carbon-absorbing system and it can be utilized to create a decent amount of sustainable power and act as its source, this would decrease our dependency on fossil fuels and help achieve the target of the Paris Agreement.
- The biomass produced by algae can be utilized in bioenergy production, animal feed, and act as natural manure.
- Algae when processed in an anaerobic digester generates methane or can be used to create bioplastic materials.
Why not phycoremediation?
Well, all seems rosy, until you know that this inexpensive solution comes at a cost, there are a few challenges that are blocking the full potential of this process, some of them are:
- High-rate algal ponds require a large amount of light that is restricted by an increase in cell thickness.
- The settling of algae along with contagious parasitism and viral contamination can radically decrease the algal population effect its chlorophyll in the high rate algal ponds.
- Nutrient availability, land, and water accessibility turn out to be an issue.
- Almost 40% of the expense and vitality is used in miniaturizing the scale for biofuel creation.
- Harvesting the energy alone takes 20-30% of the algal biofuel.
What can be done?
The first thing that needs to be done is to look right through these challenges and come to the better side of this method, that I am sure somewhere some scientist would be working out on ways to normalize this method of treatment while you are reading this, next is that the issue of water is a very personal yet quite “massy”, communities must come together to discuss phycoremediation and try to implement the process in the most minimal way to see the impact, people should be more open to such methodologies because it saves a lot of money and might help with land acquisition problems while constructing a water treatment plants, algal systems convert carbon dioxide and produce oxygen so some devices can be patented that can use this same principle and provide clean oxygen in individual dwellings and help tackle air pollution along with effective management of household wastewater. The Earth-saving technologies or solutions exist around us but very few seem to know about them the least that you can do is to spread the word and let this information reach the masses.
Saving the Earth is not much about technology but more about the mentality.
Always remember people, together we can and we will Save the Planet!
Source and Reference:
Moondra N, Christian R.A, Jariwala N. D: Integrated Approach of Phycoremediation In Wastewater Treatment.