Characteristics and reactivity of algae-produced dissolved organic carbon

My Linh Nguyen, Paul Westerhoff, Lawrence Baker, Qiang Hu, Mario Esparza-Soto, Milton Sommerfeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

226 Scopus citations


Algae (green, blue-green, and diatom) grown in inorganic media produced particulate and dissolved organic carbon (DOC). DOC produced by a green-alga contains 25% hydrophobic acids. DOC from all algae had specific ultraviolet absorbance values less than 2.0m-1 (mg/L)-1. Algae-produced DOC was biologically labile; greater than 60% degraded in bioreactors within 5 days. The biodegradable material likely included carbohydrates, amino acids, and amino sugars, which were present in hydrophobic acid isolates. Chlorination of algal DOC formed disinfection by-products; DOC from the green alga, Scenedesmus quadricauda, produced chloroform [0.53 micromole per mg carbon (μmol/mg C)], dichloroacetic acid (0.27 μmol/mg C), and trichloroacetic acid (0.14 μmol/mg C. This work complements other studies, which focused on algal total organic carbon (DOC and cellular material), and clearly demonstrates the importance of identifying algae-derived sources of DOC in water supplies and removing such DOC in water treatment plants prior to chlorination. Journal of Environmental Engineering

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1574-1582
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Environmental Engineering
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2005


  • Algae
  • Disinfection
  • Dissolved organic carbon
  • Organic matter
  • Water quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Environmental Science(all)


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