Microalgae cultivation in palm oil mill effluent (Pome) treatment and biofuel production

Sze Shin Low, Kien Xiang Bong, Muhammad Mubashir, Chin Kui Cheng, Man Kee Lam, Jun Wei Lim, Yeek Chia Ho, Keat Teong Lee, Heli Siti Halimatul Munawaroh, Pau Loke Show

Research output: Journal PublicationReview articlepeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


Palm oil mill effluent (POME) is the wastewater produced during the palm oil sterilization process, which contains substantial amounts of nutrients and phosphorous that are harmful to the environment. High BOD and COD of POME are as high as 100,000 mg/L, which endanger the environment. Effective pre-treatment of POME is required before disposal. As microalgae have the ability of biosorption on nutrients and phosphorous to perform photosynthesis, they can be utilized as a sustainable POME treatment operation, which contributes to effective biofuel production. Microalgae species C. pyrenoidosa has shown to achieve 68% lipid production along with 71% nutrient reduction in POME. In this study, a brief discussion about the impacts of POME that will affect the environment is presented. Additionally, the potential of microalgae in treating POME is evaluated along with its benefits. Furthermore, the condition of microalgae growth in the POME is also assessed to study the suitable condition for microalgae to be cultivated in. Moreover, experimental studies on characteristics and performance of microalgae are being evaluated for their feasibility. One of the profitable applications of POME treatment using microalgae is biofuel production, which will be discussed in this review. However, with the advantages brought from cultivating microalgae in POME, there are also some concerns, as microalgae will cause pollution if they are not handled well, as discussed in the last section of this paper.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3247
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Bio-fuel production
  • Effluent treatment
  • Green approach
  • Microalgae
  • Palm oil mill effluent (POME)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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