Influence of Three-dimensional Features of a Woven-fabric Substrate on Benthic Algal Biomass Production

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Algal biomass cultivation has been effectively used as a medium for remediation of nutrients from many wastewaters. Production systems such as the algal turf scrubber (ATS) that use attached filamentous algae typically show high productivity rates. The biomass productivity performance of the ATS system is influenced by various environmental and process factors, such as water velocity and turbulence, nutrient concentration, and water depth. Although numerous studies have investigated the effect of these factors on the biomass productivity, the effect of substrate complexity has remained relatively unexplored. This study investigates the effect of three dimensional substrate features on algal biomass cultivation. A three-dimensional (3D) design that uses fibers twisted in a flexible strand, attached to a two-dimensional (2D) backing was used as a growth substrate for ATS. Specifically, the role of 3D substrate features (strand spacing and base pile) and their correlating effect on algal biomass productivity were investigated under different nutrient concentrations. Findings from this study suggest that the introduction of vertical structures in three dimensional substrata to support algal attachment and colonization has a significant effect on algal biomass productivity, with productivity increasing by as much as 300% with optimum strand spacing. Also, the productivity increase of 3D substrata over 2D substrata was more pronounced under lower nutrient conditions, where a 174% increase in algal biomass yield was observed. The results suggest that vast improvements in biomass productivity are possible in ATS systems by employing 3D substrates, and optimization of substrate design for maximizing productivity is possible through refinement of topographic elements that compose the 3D structure.


© 2019 Elsevier B.V.

Publication Title

Algal Research

Published Citation

Ekong, Joseph, David M. Blersch, Kamran Kardel, Andres L. Carrano. 2019. "Influence of Three-dimensional Features of a Woven-fabric Substrate on Benthic Algal Biomass Production." Algal Research, 44. doi: 10.1016/j.algal.2019.101661



Peer Reviewed