Valorization of potato starch wastewater using anaerobic acidification coupled with Chlorella sorokiniana cultivation

Sonia Mohamadnia, Anders Thygesen, Parisa Ghofrani-Isfahani, Anna Pia Monachese, Borja Valverde-Pérez, Irini Angelidaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Wastewater from the potato processing industry called protamylasse is rich in proteins and carbohydrates that potentially can be valorized through cultivation of microalgae by mixotrophic metabolism. However, the complex organic compounds are a challenge, as algae grow best on simple compounds such as volatile fatty acids (VFA). This study demonstrates a new two-stage system. First, VFA production was achieved by testing mesophilic and thermophilic anaerobic acidification (AA) at a short hydraulic retention time (HRT; 3.3 and 5 days) resulting in the release of ammonium and phosphate. HRT of 5 days and thermophilic conditions was optimal considering the high acetate yield of 0.23 g and 22 ml CH4 per g volatile solids (VS). Then, Chlorella sorokiniana was chosen based on the obtained growth rate, and better adaption in ammonium-rich AA effluent after screening several tested microalgae (Chlorella sorokiniana, Chlorella vulgaris, Scenedesmus obliquus, and Haematococcus pluvialis). It was cultivated for valorization of nutrients and organics and successfully upscaled to 25 L photobioreactor (PBR) scale under both batch and continuous operation with high dosage of 25% (8.2 g L−1 of VS) of AA effluent at an HRT of 5 days in the PBR. Chlorella sorokiniana removed more than 99% of the chemical oxygen demand (COD) and the VFA during continuous flow PBR operation. This approach contributed to the final removal efficiency of 71%, 91%, and 78% for phosphorus, nitrate, and ammonia, respectively, and production of microalgae biomass with more than 73% protein. Thus, a promising process for simultaneous treatment of high strength wastewater for microalgal protein production.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Phycology
Pages (from-to)2645–2658
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Chlorella sorokiniana
  • Microalgae
  • Photobioreactor
  • Protamylasse
  • Protein
  • Volatile fatty acids


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