Researchers from Rice University are studying the potential for biofuel production using wastewater from wastewater treatment plants. They have shown that biodiesel-producing algae can thrive in municipal wastewater. This algae feeds on the organic matter in the wastewater and produces biodiesel as a byproduct.
In addition to producing biodiesel, the algae is also able to partially treat (i.e. clean) the wastewater. Researchers found that the algae removed 91% of nitrate-N and 53% of phosphorus from the wastewater. This is a win-win situation.
The applicable standard from the NGSS is:
HS-ETS1-3 (high school). Evaluate a solution to a complex real-world problem based on prioritized criteria and trade-offs that account for a range of constraints, including cost, safety, reliability, and aesthetics, as well as possible social, cultural, and environmental impacts.
Discuss this method of biodiesel production with respect to the standard.