Photobioreactors for wastewater treatment and resource recovery

The objective of this research-line of the PPRR core is to develop a robust wastewater treatment technology for application in tropical areas, with a small footprint and excellent effluent quality.


In-situ photo-oxygenation by algae replaces mechanical aerators that consume significant amounts of energy. A consortia of algae and bacteria, in well-settling flocs efficiently removes and recovers nitrogen and phosphorous.

This process is the basis for the PhotoActivatedSludge process. It combines the advantages of the conventional activated sludge process with those of high rate algae ponds.

Research Results

Nathan D. Manser, Meng Wang, Sarina J. Ergas, James R. Mihelcic, Arnold Mulder, Jack van de Vossenberg, Jules B. van Lier and Peter van der Steen (2016) Biological Nitrogen Removal in a Photo-Sequencing Batch Reactor with an Algal-Nitrifying Bacterial Consortium and Anammox Granules, Environ. Sci. Technol. Lett., 3 (4), pp 175–179

Meng Wang, Han Yang, Sarina J. Ergas and Peter van der Steen (2015) A novel shortcut nitrogen removal process using an algal-bacterial consortium in a photo-sequencing batch reactor (PSBR), Water Research 87, 38–48.

Peter van der Steen , Kuntarini Rahsilawati, Angelica Rada, Carlos M. Lopez-Vazquez and Piet Lens (2015) A new photo-activated sludge system for nitrification by an algal-bacterial consortium in a photo-bioreactor with biomass recycle. Water Science and Technology, 72, 3, 443-50.

N.G.A.I. Karya, N.P. van der Steen  and P.N.L. Lens (2013) Photo-oxygenation to support nitrification in an algal–bacterial consortium treating artificial wastewater. Journal Bioresource Technology 134, 244–250. 

On-going Research

Angelica Rada Ariza - Microalgae for wastewater biotreatment and biomass recovery.

Ran Tao - Use of effluents of anaerobic digestion and microbial fuel cells as nutrient sources for microalgal biomass production (together with prof. Eric van Hullebusch,  Prof. Jukka Rintala and dr. Aino-Maija Lakaniemi; Marie Sklodowska-Curie European Joint Doctorate (EJD) in Advanced Biological Waste-To-Energy Technologies (ABWET))



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