Microalgae biomass harvesting by bioflocculation-interpretation by classical DLVO theory

Theoneste Ndikubwimana, Xianhai Zeng, Ning He, Zongyuan Xiao, Youping Xie, Jo Shu Chang, Lu Lin, Yinghua Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)


Poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) broth was found to be a good bioflocculant of microalgae. However, the mechanism governing this bioflocculation process is not fully understood. In this study, Zeta potential measurement, microscopy examination and classical DLVO theory (named after Derjaguin, Landau, Verwey and Overbeek) analysis were used to explore the flocculability of microalgae induced by bacterial γ-PGA broth bioflocculant. Microalgae flocculation could be significantly improved by modifying ionic strength of the microalgae suspension, lowering pH value and bioflocculant addition due to the stronger attraction interactions between microalgal cells. In the present study, both the pH reduction with the bioflocculant induced better the flocculation process compared to the modification of ionic strength of the microalgae suspension in the presence of the bioflocculant. The DLVO theory indicated that when the bioflocculant was introduced, the total interaction energy decreased sharply, resulting in higher flocculation efficiency (>96 %) at a separation distance of 5. nm and shorter settling time (from 2. h to 10. min) compared with that obtained only by reducing the initial pH. The microalgae interaction energy was found to be dependent on the Zeta potential. This study provided a detailed interpretation of conceivable mechanism of microalgae bioflocculation by γ-PGA broth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-167
Number of pages8
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Sept 5

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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