Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Collaborative Specialization

Environment and Sustainability


Nakhla, George


There has been increased interest in alternative wastewater treatment systems to improve nutrient recovery while achieving acceptable TCOD, TN, and TP discharge limits. Purple phototrophic bacteria (PPB) have a high potential for simultaneous nutrient removal and recovery from wastewater. This study evaluated the PPB performance and its growth at different operating conditions with a focus on HRT and light optimization using a continuous-flow membrane photobioreactor (PHB). Furthermore, the effect of low temperature on PPB performance was assessed to evaluate the PPB’s application in cold-climate regions. In order to evaluate PPB performance, TCOD, TN, and TP removal efficiencies and Monod kinetic parameters were analyzed at different HRTs (36, 18, and 9 h), at temperatures of 22°C and 11°C and infrared (IR) light intensities of 50, 3, and 1.4 Wm-2. The results indicated that low temperature had no detrimental impact on PPB’s performance. The photobioreactor (PHB) with cold-enriched PPB has a high potential to treat municipal wastewater with effluent concentrations below target limits (TCOD˂ 50mgL-1, TN˂10 mgL-1, and TP˂1 mgL-1). Monod kinetic parameters Ks, K, Y, and Kd were estimated at 20-29 mgCODL-1, 1.6-1.9 mgCOD(mgVSS.d)-1, 0.47 mgVSS mgCOD-1, and 0.07-0.08 d-1 at temperatures of 11°C-22°C respectively. The results of the steady-state mass balances showed TCOD, TN, and TP recoveries of 80%-86%, which reflected PPB’s substrate and nutrient assimilation.

Previous studies utilized high light intensities (˃ 50 Wm-2) to provide PPB with the maximum energy required for its growth. In order to enable the PPB technology as a practical approach in municipal wastewater treatment, light intensity must be optimized. Based on the literature, there is no study on PPB performance at low light intensities using a continuous-flow membrane photobioreactor. The effect of low light intensities of 3, and 1.4 Wm-2 on PPB performance was addressed in this study. The results indicated that PPB at a light intensity as low as 1.4 Wm-2 were able to treat municipal wastewater with effluent concentrations below above-mentioned target limits. Light intensity (1-50 Wm-2) had no detrimental impact on PPB performance and Monod kinetic parameters. This study showed that the optimized light intensity required for municipal wastewater treatment with PPB is significantly lower than previously indicated in the literature. The energy consumptions attributed to PHB’s illumination of 3, and 1.4 Wm-2 were determined to be 1.44, and 0.67 kWh/m3 which is significantly lower than previous studies (˃ 24 kWh/m3).