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The biotechnology of high rate algal ponding systems in the treatment of saline tannery wastewaters

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dc.contributor.author Dunn KM en
dc.date.accessioned 2016-09-22T08:09:42Z
dc.date.available 2016-09-22T08:09:42Z
dc.date.created 1995 en
dc.date.submitted 1998 en
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.11892/20836
dc.description.abstract Salinisation has been identified as a major cause of the progressive deterioration in the public water system in South Africa. To deal with this problem Waste Stabilisation Ponding systems have been used by the Leather Processing Industry as zero-discharge wastewater evaporation disposal processes in water-limited inland regions of the country. While effective in the evaporation disposal function these systems are plagued by the generation of serious odour nuisance creating intractable environmental problems relating to adjacent residential communities. High loading to ponds of organic compounds, sulphides and ammonia results in strongly reducing anaerobic conditions prevailing in early parts of pond cascades. These are characterised by bright red colours due to the predominance of purple photosynthetic bacteria. Sporadic microalgal blooms of Spirulina sp. and Dunaliella sp. had been previously noted to occur on the latter ponds in these cascades, and was associated with their conversion to facultative function, with aerobic surface layers, and a marked reduction in odour release. This research programme undertook an investigation of the microbial ecology of a tannery waste stabilisation ponding system to describe factors, which give rise to these blooms, and to determine whether microalgal growth may be manipulated to achieve a reliable oxygen-generating capping of the anaerobic ponds. The predominance of near pure cultures of Spirulina platensis was demonstrated for the blooms and factors restricting its growth in the system were described. These include the interaction of ammonia and sulphide toxic effects and laboratory studies were undertaken to show how effluent loading may be regulated to enable effective growth of the cyanobacterium. At appropriate dilutions of tannery effluent an enhancement of growth was noted, compared to growth in defined mineral medium. An investigation of this phenomenon provided preliminary evidence for organic uptake by the pond microalgae and a possible contribution to heterotrophic nutrition. Heavy metal contaminants were effectively eliminated by an optimisation of the primary anaerobic pond function and precipitation as metal sulphides. Biomass was harvested and dried, during which a range of methods were evaluated. Toxicological studies were undertaken on the dried biomass using Artemia and chick assays, and feed studies showed its useful application in rations for the abalone Haliotus midae and rainbow trout Onchorhynchus mykiss. Based on positive independent assessment of research outcomes, a decision was made by the tanning company operating the Waste Stabilisation Ponding system, to proceed to the construction of a full-scale 2 500m2 High Rate Algal Pond raceway. This would be used for controlled Spirulina biomass production to effect a practical capping of the anaerobic ponds in the system, and to evaluate its commercial potential in the feed market. The Advanced Integrated Wastewater Ponding System described by Oswald (1991) provided the conceptual basis for the Algal Biotechnology process development undertaken. The studies of the microbial ecology and the biotechnological potential of this system have shown that a Spirulina- based High Rae Algal Ponding process can be engineered in such a way that saline tannery effluents may be treated to effect a significant reduction in overall pollution load, that biomass may be recovered as a value added product of the treatment process and that the operational performance of Waste Stabilisation Ponding systems, and hence their immediate environment, may be improved by the use of the High Rate Algal Pond as a retrofitted upgrading unit operation. en
dc.language English en
dc.subject Biochemistry en
dc.subject Microbiology en
dc.title The biotechnology of high rate algal ponding systems in the treatment of saline tannery wastewaters en
dc.type Doctoral degree en
dc.description.degree PhD en

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