--> Openlink Vol 23 Issue 4 (Dec 2014)<!--Microalgal treatment can purify food waste and yield biofuel, research suggests--> | Hong Kong Metropolitan University
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  •  Openlink Vol 23 Issue 4 (Dec 2014)
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    Microalgal treatment can purify food waste and yield biofuel, research suggests

    The OUHK and Sino Group hosted a press conference on 27 October introducing a collaborative research project on the purification of food waste filtrate with microalgae. The Associate Director of Sino Property Services Mr Terence Ng, the OUHK’s Dean of the School of Science and Technology Prof. Ho Kin-chung and his research team were all present at the conference.

    The one-year project commenced in April. It is the first on-site study to apply algal treatment to purify food waste filtrate collected, and the first environmental science research project between a local university and a shopping mall.

    Using the filtrate collected from decomposed food waste from Sino Group’s
    Olympian City 2, the research team successfully cultivated microalgae and purified the sewage with an algal culture reactor set beside the decomposer. During the process, nitrogen and phosphorus in the sewage are digested by the growing algae, greenhouse gas is absorbed and the microalgae can later be refined into biodiesel, turning waste into energy.

    Led by Prof. Ho Kin-chung, the research team comprises members of the School of Science and Technology including Assistant Professors Dr Peter Yau Yiu-hung, Dr Fred Lee Wang-fat, Dr Steven Xu Jing-liang, Assistant Lecturer Mr Wong Yee-keung and a group of students studying Bachelor’s and MPhil degrees in Environmental Studies at the OUHK. Over the past six months, the research team successfully identified the most ideal species of microalgae for treating sewage and producing biodiesel effectively from among the many species in the OUHK laboratory. The experiment took place both at the laboratory and the shopping mall with significant results (see below). In the next stage, the team will study the components of filtrate further to ascertain the most optimal conditions for the growth of microalgae.

    Data collected in the first stage of the experiment shows:
    • If all filtrate of food waste at Olympic City 2 underwent the microalgae treatment, carbon dioxide emissions could be deducted by 12,800 kg, equivalent to the daily absorption of carbon dioxide by 214,115 mature trees.
    • Each litre of food waste filtrate can cultivate 1.215 g of microalgae which may lead to the production of 316 mg of biodiesel.
    • Major sewage treatment works in Hong Kong cannot substantially remove nitrogen and phosphorus from the effluent which may cause harmful algal blooms. However, the research findings may enhance the sewage treatment process at the secondary or even tertiary stages and enable further improvement of coastal water quality.
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