Earth, Atmosphere & Environment Sciences

Title :

Developing a Diatom Algae-based Biological Treatment System for Simultaneous Removal of Organic Carbon, Nutrient, and Micropollutants from Domestic Wastewater: Pilot-scale Demonstration

Area of research :

Earth, Atmosphere & Environment Sciences

Focus area :

Wastewater treatment

Principal Investigator :

Dr Debraj Bhattacharyya, Associate Professor, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad

Timeline Start Year :


Contact info :


Executive Summary :

More than two-third of the wastewater, generated from Class I cities and Class II towns, is discharged to water bodies without any treatment. The government of India is decentralizing wastewater treatment by urging urban residential communities to set up on-site wastewater treatment plants that can generate recyclable water for non-potable purposes. However, existing aerobic bacteria-based treatment technologies are costly and require skilled supervision. Moreover, these systems are not designed to remove nutrients from wastewater. The government’s upcoming regulations put emphasis on nutrient removal which cannot be done without significantly modifying the existing structures and processes. Therefore, it is the need of the day to develop a cost-effective, efficient and simple technology to meet the new requirements. The Investigators intend to develop a symbiotic algae-bacteria based technology that can remove organic carbon, nutrient, and even some targeted micropollutants from wastewater in a single tank and meet the above objectives. It will be a new product; at the same time, we will suggest minimum modifications to upgrade existing bacteria-based systems into algae-based systems. They, at IIT Hyderabad, have been working quite closely with our collaborator at Ritsumeikan University (Japan) for some time on lab-scale systems and we have got very encouraging results. In this project, investigators plan to scale up their research in order to develop a commercially viable product. A gated community in Hyderabad, housing two thousand families, has agreed to provide its on-site treatment facility (1.2 MLD) for testing our technology. This research will be conducted through the following steps: A. Collect baseline performance data of the existing system. B. Retrofit the plant and introduce diatom into the system. C. Study the performance of the new system at different operating conditions. D. Extract design data for field-scale application and techno-economic feasibility analysis. The project will have a duration of 2-years and will be executed at an estimated cost of Rs. 80 lakhs. Partner industry will bear 12.5% of the overall cost. Urban residential communities will find the new system simple to operate, easy to adopt, and less expensive in terms of maintenance. The government’s mandate on decentralization of wastewater treatment will be fulfilled and regulations on wastewater recycling will be effectively implemented. The wastewater industry will also find a new area to explore, develop, and market.


Prof. Tarun Kanti Panda, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Hyderabad

Total Budget (INR):


Achievements :

Two prototypes have been fabricated. Both the prototypes are operational. Investigators are collecting data and monitoring their performances. They are also upgrading an existing field-scale activated sludge-based wastewater treatment plant into a hybrid algal-bacterial system. Investigators have introduced artificial light and growth and attachment media. Before the research, there was no chlorophyll in the system. They have three months of experimental data. Chlorophyll content has increased, indicating that the algal population is increasing in the system.

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Organizations involved