West Australian scientists have begun trials looking at using algae to clean up abattoir wastewater.
Algal biotechnologist, Associate Professor Navid Moheimani and systems engineering expert Professor Parisa A. Bahri, both from Murdoch University have started a three-year project, with an abattoir in Western Australia.
"Red meat processing facilities generate large volumes of wastewater and solid waste rich in nutrients," Associate Professor Moheimani said.
"In previous studies we established a few species of algae that can grow in untreated piggery waste and we are expanding this idea to see whether it can work for the cattle industry.
"As well as removing nutrients from the wastewater, microalgae can help reduce carbon, nitrogen and phosphorous levels."
In the first stage of the project, currently underway, the team are searching for microalgal species that would potentially be suitable to treat the abattoir wastewater.
Professor Bahri said the team aimed to narrow investigations down to a few species that are easy to cultivate and harvest from the wastewater, and also have the high potential for producing valuable end-products.
"Once we have identified our selected species we will focus on establishing the best conditions to grow them," Prof Bahri said.
"After that we can focus more on ways to remove algae from water to test the suitability of purified water for reuse in the abattoir.
The team has set up their testing facility at the outdoor ponds of Murdoch's Algae Research and Development Centre and aim to have a pilot scale demonstration system on site and ready by 2020.