Mineral-hydrogel composites for mitigating harmful algal bloom and supplying phosphorous for photo-biorefineries

Zhengyang Xiao, Albern X. Tan, Vincent Xu, Young Shin Jun, Yinjie J. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Harmful algal blooms (HAB) are a major environmental concern in eutrophic aquatic systems. To mitigate HABs and recover the phosphorus that drives algal growth, this study developed hydrogel composites seeded with calcium phosphate and wollastonite particles, which first adsorb phosphate (P) and then precipitate it as calcium phosphate. Using a fast-growing cyanobacterium, Synechococcus elongatus 2973, as a model microalga, we found that the mineral-hydrogel composites reduced dissolved P in BG11 media from 5.1 mg/L to 0.31 mg/L, initially reducing the biomass growth rate by up to 73 % and ultimately reducing the total biomass concentration by 75 %. When applied to municipal wastewater and agricultural run-off, the composites removed 96 % and 91 % of the dissolved P, respectively. Moreover, when the recovered P-enriched composites were reused as a slow-release bio-compatible fertilizer in a photobioreactor, they effectively supported algal growth without blocking light and interfering with photosynthesis. The P-enriched composites could tune the P concentration in the culture medium and significantly promote algal lipid accumulation. This study demonstrates the mineral-hydrogel composites' potential to treat point sources of P pollution and subsequently facilitate photoautotrophic biofuel production as a nutrient, effectively recycling the captured P.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157533
JournalScience of the Total Environment
StatePublished - Nov 15 2022


  • Biofuel
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Hydrogels
  • Photo-biorefinery
  • Shading effect


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