1 School of Engineering, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Jl. Tgk. Syech Abdur Rauf, Darussalam, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

2 Chemical Engineering Department, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Jl. Tgk. Syech Abdur Rauf, Darussalam, Banda Aceh, Indonesia

3 Electrical Engineering Department, Universitas Syiah Kuala, Jl. Tgk. Syech Abdur Rauf, Darussalam, Banda Aceh, Indonesia


BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: The utilization of stabilization pond system for landfill leachate treatment is hindered by its requirement for expansive land areas and extended retention periods. Although the system effectively removes organic compounds, its ability to eliminate nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus is comparatively limited. Consequently, the leachate subjected to treatment often falls short of meeting the mandated standards for effluent quality. In response to this challenge, a research study was undertaken to investigate the potential of utilizing a consortium comprising microalgae and bacteria in the treatment of landfill leachate.
METHODS: The microalgae, bacteria, and leachate utilized in this study were sourced from a leachate treatment facility located at the Aceh regional domestic waste management unit in Blang Bintang, Aceh Besar, Indonesia. The two glass photobioreactors were operated batch-wise, where the first was provided with a combination of air and carbon dioxide, and the other was solely exposed to air. The pollutant removal efficacy in the leachate effluent was assessed through the measurements of chemical oxygen demand, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate concentrations. Subsequently, macroscopic identification of microalgae and bacteria species was also conducted.
FINDING: Utilizing a consortium of microalgae and bacteria has demonstrated efficacy in treating leachate, resulting in a notable reduction of contaminants within the effluent. The symbiotic association between microalgae and bacteria in the context of leachate waste treatment is evident. The bacteria’s metabolic actions result in carbon dioxide emission, which subsequently serves as a substrate for the photosynthetic activities of the microalgae. The microalgae facilitate the transfer of oxygen, produced through photosynthesis, to the bacteria to support their metabolic processes. Therefore, introducing exogenous carbon dioxide to the consortium yields minimal discernible effects, given that the bacteria adequately fulfill the carbon dioxide requirements of the microalgae. This discovery enhances the efficacy of leachate treatment techniques by leveraging the utilization of pre-existing mixed cultures of microalgae and bacteria found in leachate facilities.
CONCLUSION: This study evaluated the microalgae-bacteria consortium’s effectiveness in reducing leachate pollutants. The consortium exhibited a significant capability, achieving a 75 percent reduction in chemical oxygen demand and successfully eliminating a range of contaminants. Additionally, it demonstrated effective removal of nitrogen compounds such as ammonia, nitrate, and nitrite, with removal rates reaching 75 percent. Notably, the consortium showed a 99 percent removal rate for phosphate compounds. Even with the introduction of carbon dioxide, the pollutant removal remained consistently high, suggesting that the addition of carbon dioxide did not significantly influence the overall process.

Graphical Abstract

Synergistic removal of organic and nutrients from landfill leachate using photobioreactor-cultivated microalgae-bacteria consortium


  • Applying a microalgae-bacteria consortium sourced from leachate treatment ponds for treating leachate effluent has proven highly reliable in efficiently removing various pollutants, including organic compounds, ammonia, nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate;
  • The application of a microalgae-bacteria consortium in leachate treatment demonstrates a symbiotic association, as the consortium efficiently removes pollutants while engaging in the production of oxygen by microalgae and carbon dioxide by bacteria, with these by-products then utilized for the organisms’ metabolic activities,
  • The presence or absence of additional carbon dioxide gas does not result in a significant difference in pollutant removal, as the need for carbon dioxide to facilitate microalgae growth has already been fulfilled through bacterial processes.


Main Subjects

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