Opportunities and Challenges of Microalgal Cultivation on Wastewater, with Special Focus on Palm Oil Mill Effluent and the Production of High Value Compounds

Muhamad Maulana Azimatun Nur · Anita G. J. Buma

South East Asia dominates the production of palm oil worldwide. During the traditional wet processing, palm oil mill effluent
(POME) wastewater is generated which poses serious environmental problems. Wastewater treatment using microalgae was
initiated recently because of the advantages to lower nutrient content efficiently while the biomass can be utilized as bulk
biomass or value added product. In the present review the utilization of wastewater for microalgal cultivation is discussed
with particular attention to the feasibility of utilizing POME as microalgal growth medium. Whereas much recent research
was focused on the production of bulk biomass, the potential for the production of value-added compounds has not often
been addressed. Various strategies of obtaining high-value products are discussed. These include cultivation systems, algal
species selection as well as and their growth strategies (autotrophic, heterotrophic, mixotrophic). In addition, potential problems
associated with microalgal cultivation on POME will be evaluated. Finally, the concept of using stepwise strategies to
obtain high value added product will be proposed.

Keywords Palm oil mill effluent · Wastewater · Microalgae · Value added compound · Cultivation

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