Algae-based Treatment of Dairy Wastewater & Generation of Renewable Energy

Algae-Based Wastewater Treatment for Dairies Results in Multiple Benefits that Improve the Bottom Line

Quantitative BioSciences, Inc


San Diego, CA

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Project Result

QBI constructed a fully integrated dairy wastewater treatment system using microalgae for improved energy efficiency and water reclamation at the Van Ommering Dairy in San Diego County. QBI worked with CADMUS Inc., to conduct an independent assessment of the demonstration units performance, energy savings, water quality and created detail Excel based tools to assist other dairies in designing an algae based treatment suitable for their operations.

The Issue

California is the nation's biggest dairy state with approximately 2200 dairies, producing over 20% of the country's milk supply. With more than 1.8 million cows, California's dairy farms generate over 7 million tons of manure annually, most of which is liquefied into wastewater and discarded inefficiently, without tapping into the waste's rich nutrients and high-energy content. The treatment of liquefied animal waste on concentrated animal feeding operations (COFAs) is a particularly pressing challenge and offers significant opportunities for energy efficiency and renewable energy production.

Project Innovation

This project designed, built and demonstrated a low-cost algae-based solution to address the wastewater challenges facing one of California's largest agricultural sector. Project results showed that the system significantly improved effluent water quality with significantly reduced operational costs compared to traditional aeration-based systems. In addition, the algae biomass was shown to be a slow release fertilizer, enhancing the growth of crops on site. If deployed on California's dairies, such a system could help reduce state-wide water and energy use.

Project Benefits

The QBI technology leverages multiple farming resources to improve the bottom line, by remediating and recycling water for crop irrigation, producing biomethane for use as a vehicle fuel, generating high-protein biomass for use as a fertilizer or livestock feed, and reclaiming valuable land that was previously used for wastewater treatment operations.

Match Partners


Quantitative BioSciences, Inc


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