Monitoring of microalgae in water supplies and industrial applications are becoming increasingly important, yet there are few options available that are simple and accurate, and can provide real-time information. The present work illustrates a new method to determine the concentration of microalgae in water and wastewater using spectrophotometry and the first derivative of absorbance. Chlorella vulgaris was used as an indicator microalga, spiked in water samples representing a range of water qualities (distilled water, surface water, and wastewater), and correlations among C. vulgaris concentrations, absorbance, and the first derivative of absorbance measurements were investigated. In addition, detection limits were established and sensitivity analyses were carried out to determine the lowest C. vulgaris concentrations that can be confidently measured in different water matrices. Finally, the study compared the performance and detection limits of the spectrophotometry-based methods with the well-accepted chlorophyll extraction method. A strong linear relationship (R2 > 0.97) was found between C. vulgaris concentration and absorbance at 695 nm. Using the first derivative of absorbance improved C. vulgaris detection limits by reducing the effects of the background noise and interferences from other substances. The detection limits established using the first derivative method were 0.47, 0.56, and 1.96 mg TVS/L in distilled water, surface water, and wastewater, respectively. In comparison, the detection limits of the chlorophyll extraction method were found to be 19.6, 38.6, and 48.3 mg TVS/L in the same water matrices. These results indicate that first derivative of absorbance can be successfully used for monitoring of microalgae in surface waters and environmental samples as well as in bioreactors used for microalgae cultivation in industrial applications.

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Keywords Absorbance, C. vulgaris, Measurement, Microalgae, Monitoring, Wastewater, Water
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Journal Environmental Monitoring and Assessment
Almomani, F.A. (Fares A.), & Örmeci, B. (2018). Monitoring and measurement of microalgae using the first derivative of absorbance and comparison with chlorophyll extraction method. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 190(2). doi:10.1007/s10661-018-6468-y