Biotransformation of Palm Oil Mill Effluent to Biofuel by Immobilized Microalgae in a Down Flow Hanging Sponge Reactor (DHS)
A. Shoiful, U. J. Siregar, L. Ernawati, S. N. Roslan, R. Mohamad, S. M. S. Hitam, R. Abdullah

Source: SEAMEO BIOTROP's Research Grant | 2021


Palm oil mill effluent (POME) is one the major issues in palm oil industry. POME contains high organic materials that can be used as medium growth of microalgae. This study investigated the performance of immobilized Nannochloropsis oculate in a down-flow hanging sponge (DHS) reactor for the treatment of POME. The reactor was inoculated with a species of microalgae, namely Nannochloropsis oculate. The reactors were continuously supplied with POME and operated in 2 phases for 42 days. The reactor has shown excellent performance for the pollutant’s removal efficiency. In Phase 1, the reactor has successfully removed COD, colour, ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3-N) and phosphate at the highest removal efficiency of 63% 89%, 75% and 65% respectively. In Phase 2, when the loading rate was reduced, the removal efficiencies of COD, ammoniacal nitrogen (NH3-N), and phosphate could be enhanced to 73%, 80%, and 83%, respectively. Even colour removal efficiency slightly decreased, but 80% of removal can be achieved. These results revealed that immobilized Nannochloropsis oculate in a DHS reactor was able to remove pollutants in POME. The organic content in POME can be utilized as nutrient for the support of microalgae growth through photosynthesis. In addition, this method could be an alternative method to cultivate microalgae for biofuel production 

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