Ecologically designed human communities might incorporate microfarms with controlled cultivation in a greenhouse or bioreactor. On a tiny land area, a community could meet a significant portion of its protein and vitamin requirements from microalgae, thus freeing cropland for community recreation or reforestation.
Most advanced farms designed to produce high-quality microalgal biomass necessarily have higher production costs. To lower costs, the ecological farms of the future need to integrate their sources of nutrients and energy, and produce a variety of end products, from valuable extracts to inexpensive protein.
Microalgae, sometimes in combination with other microorganisms, are utilized to treat municipal, agricultural, food, industrial, as well as aqua- and mariculture, effluents. The main objectives for algal biotechnology are the improvement of existing systems for waste water treatment, the reduction of problematic emissions, the establishment of material circuits, and water recycling. The consumption of inorganic nutrients by autotrophi-cally growing microalgae may be used for the reduction of environmental loads. The key substances contributing to water eutrophy, for example, nitrate and phosphate, as well as important industrial and agricultural waste gases (e.g., ammonia and carbon dioxide) are the main nutrients for microalgae. Having disposed off such environmental loads, these algae can be exploited as fertilizers, and for the extraction of valuable compounds.
A number of applications have been developed in the following fields:
• development of a process and pilot plant for the disposal of inorganic loads, especially nitrate and phosphate from the circulating process water of aquaculture by microalgae;
• heavy-metal biosorption by viable microalgae;
• utilization of carbon dioxide from industrial exhaust gas; and
• disposal of contaminants from agricultural waste-water.
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