A beneficial by-product of ecological wastewater treatment

An evaluation of wastewater-grown duckweed as a protein supplement for sustainable agriculture

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Ecological wastewater treatment systems that incorporate aquatic plants (like duckweed) have the potential to recover nutrients and produce high-quality protein, simultaneously alleviating two global issues: hunger and lack of sanitation. Although protein production by duckweed in simple lagoon systems and laboratory trials has been reported, its physiology throughout more complex wastewater treatment systems containing a range of different environmental conditions has not been examined. In this study, a duckweed co-culture (Lemna japonica/minor and Wolffia columbiana) was grown on wastewater from four different stages of a pilot-scale ecological treatment system. Contrary to the literature, the protein content of duckweed did not consistently increase with increasing aqueous nitrogen concentrations, but rather appeared to also be dependent on chemical and microbial interactions. This study indicates that with proper management, duckweed grown in ecological wastewater systems can sustainably produce protein at rates exceeding those of common land-grown forage crops (10.1 ton ha−1 yr−1).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100004
JournalEcological Engineering: X
Volume1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

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alternative agriculture
Wastewater treatment
Agriculture
Byproducts
Wastewater
Proteins
wastewater
protein
common land
Sanitation
hunger
Physiology
aquatic plant
sanitation
Nutrients
Crops
physiology
lagoon
environmental conditions
Nitrogen

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

Cite this

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abstract = "Ecological wastewater treatment systems that incorporate aquatic plants (like duckweed) have the potential to recover nutrients and produce high-quality protein, simultaneously alleviating two global issues: hunger and lack of sanitation. Although protein production by duckweed in simple lagoon systems and laboratory trials has been reported, its physiology throughout more complex wastewater treatment systems containing a range of different environmental conditions has not been examined. In this study, a duckweed co-culture (Lemna japonica/minor and Wolffia columbiana) was grown on wastewater from four different stages of a pilot-scale ecological treatment system. Contrary to the literature, the protein content of duckweed did not consistently increase with increasing aqueous nitrogen concentrations, but rather appeared to also be dependent on chemical and microbial interactions. This study indicates that with proper management, duckweed grown in ecological wastewater systems can sustainably produce protein at rates exceeding those of common land-grown forage crops (10.1 ton ha−1 yr−1).",
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