Biological Systems Engineering


Date of this Version



Published in Biomass and Bioenergy 35 (2011) 4835-4840


© 2011 Elsevier Ltd. Used by Permission.


Flocculation is a common and inexpensive method for harvesting algae from solution. After nitrogen starvation, it was shown that 83 + 3% of the wall-deficient cells of the cw 15 mutant of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii flocculated from 12 mL samples within 15 min after the addition of 15 mM calcium chloride at pH 8.4. Only 24 2% of the wildtype strain flocculated under these conditions, thus demonstrating how a simple mutation might facilitate process design. The data suggested that algae grown in waters with similar calcium concentrations (e.g. certain wastewaters) might be harvested through simple pH adjustment. It was also discovered that the addition of small amounts (<5% v/v) of methanol could significantly reduce the calcium needed to achieve flocculation. Within 15 min after addition of 12 mM calcium chloride and 4.6% (v/v) methanol, 83 + 4% of cw15 cells flocculated. Methanol is fully recoverable by distillation, and its use might enable flocculation without further water salinization when media calcium concentrations fall short of 15 mM. It was further shown that substrates for and/or products of cellular growth affected flocculation adversely. Nearly 81% of cells flocculated from fresh medium compared to only 54% in spent medium.