Project

ALG-AD

Goal: ALG-AD is an Interreg NWE funded project, which aims to use waste for sustainable growth by developing new technology to take excess waste nutrients produced from anaerobic digestion of food and farm waste to cultivate algal biomass for animal feed and other products of value.
ALG-AD brings together a group of scientists and engineers from 11 different partners in four countries across North West Europe. These academics are working together with industry to develop a circular economy solution to create wealth from waste.

Date: 17 September 2017 - 31 March 2021

Updates
0 new
16
Recommendations
0 new
0
Followers
0 new
19
Reads
4 new
428

Project log

Alla Silkina
added 2 research items
Human activities produce waste. In autotrophic mode, microalgae consume these waste materials, as growth nutrients, along with sunlight to create more biomass and O2. This process is known as photosynthesis, and microalgae are the fastest photosynthetic organism on the planet. Moreover, they are not land-based and do not compete for arable land. The algae themselves are full of useful products. This paper demonstrates at near commercial scale that nutrients in waste streams can be recovered and recycled in a circular economy by algae production. The downstream process for algae harvesting and refinement is also demonstrated at scale via a bio-refinery approach with close to 100% mass efficiency. In this way, valuable products can be obtained from recycled materials resulting in a cost-effective process. Thus, algae have great potential to bio-remediate waste materials and create value, which has significant environmental benefits.
The bioremediation of digestate using microalgae presents a solution to the current eutrophication issue in Northwest Europe, where the use of digestate as soil fertiliser is limited, thus resulting in an excess of digestate. Ammonium is the main nutrient of interest in digestate for microalgal cultivation, and improving its availability and consequent uptake is crucial for optimal bioremediation. This work aimed to determine the influence of pH on ammonium availability in cultures of two green microalgae, additionally screened for their growth performances on three digestates produced from different feedstocks, demonstrating the importance of tailoring a microalgal strain and digestate for bioremediation purposes. Results showed that an acidic pH of 6–6.5 resulted in a better ammonium availability in the digestate media, translated into better growth yields for both S. obliquus (GR: 0.099 ± 0.001 day−1; DW: 0.23 ± 0.02 g L−1) and C. vulgaris (GR: 0.09 ± 0.001 day−1; DW: 0.49 ± 0.012 g L−1). This result was especially true when considering larger-scale applications where ammonium loss via evaporation should be avoided. The results also demonstrated that digestates from different feedstocks resulted in different growth yields and biomass composition, especially fatty acids, for which, a digestate produced from pig manure resulted in acid contents of 6.94 ± 0.033% DW and 4.91 ± 0.3% DW in S. obliquus and C. vulgaris, respectively. Finally, this work demonstrated that the acclimation of microalgae to novel nutrient sources should be carefully considered, as it could convey significant advantages in terms of biomass composition, especially fatty acids and carbohydrate, for which, this study also demonstrated the importance of harvesting time.
Alla Silkina
added an update
Kapoore, R.V.*, Fuentes-Grünewald C., Soudant P., Seelam J.S., Souza M.F., Llewellyn C.A. 2021.
Seasonal Variation variation of algal biomass cultivated using nutrient-rich digestate. Public Output
report of the ALG-AD project, Swansea, June 2021.
Available online at www.nweurope.eu/projects/ALG-AD.
This document is an output from the ALG-AD project, which has received European Regional Development
Funding through the INTERREG IVB NWE programme
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
This document is a technical report detailing the methods applied to conduct safety analysis on the digestates and microalgal biomass produced as part of the ALG-AD project. This document is an ouput of the INTERREG North West Europe funded ALG-AD project aiming to combine anaerobic digestion (AD) and microalgal cultivation technologies to remediate nutrient-rich digestate currently produced in excess in the area.
The main objective of this report is to document the methodology and results of the safety analysis conducted on the digestate and biomass produced at the three pilot facilities based at industrial locations in the UK, France and Belgium. The document draws conclusions and recommendations.
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
This document is a technical report detailing the methods required to extract oils and peptides
from Thraustochytrids. This document is part of the INTERREG North West Europe funded ALGAD
project aiming to combine anaerobic digestion (AD) and microalgal cultivation technologies
to remediate nutrient-rich digestate currently produced in excess in the area.
The main objective of this report is to show how this scientific task was carried out in the laboratory
and at the pilot facilities based at industrial locations. The document draws conclusions
and recommendations from laboratory and large-scale trials conducted at the ALG-AD project
investment site in France.
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
This study explores the EU legislation across the entire microalgae production value chain, focusing
on how the requirements apply to the use of microalgae as a component of compound feed. The report is intended to inform project partners initially, then a broader set of stakeholders and end-users with an interest in this value chain.
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
The Project newsletter shows the update of various project activities, presenting a member of research staff and announcing future events
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
The Project newsletter shows the update of various project activities, presenting the member of research staff and announcing future events
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
The Project newsletter shows the update on various project activities, such as the research results, dissemination and others. The newsletter is also presenting the research staff and announcing future project events, webinars and conferences.
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
In this video, Dr , talking about his recently published paper. Claudio will explain the innovative reliable approach to continuously treat AD digestate with a novel approach of two-step microalgal cultivation
 
Alla Silkina
added a research item
Implementing a circular economy aimed at reusing resources is becoming increasingly important for industry. Microalgae fit within a circular economy by being able to bioremediate nutrient waste and as a source of biomass for several commercial applications. Here, we report a novel validation of a circular economy concept using microalgae at a relevant industrial scale with a new two-phase process. During the first phase biomass was grown autotrophically, biomass was then concentrated using membrane technology for the second phase where mixotrophic conditions were applied to boost growth further. Microalgae cultures were able to grow (13.8 g/L), uptake and bioremediate nutrients (Nitrogen > 134 mg/L/day) from an anaerobic digestion side-stream (digestate), obtaining high quality microalgae biomass (>45% protein content) suitable for use as animal feed, closing the circular economy loop for industrial applications.
Fleuriane Fernandes
added a research item
Digestate produced from the anaerobic digestion of food and farm waste is primarily returned to land as a biofertiliser for crops, with its potential to generate value through alternative processing methods at present under explored. In this work, valorisation of a digestate resulting from the treatment of kitchen and food waste was investigated, using dilution, settlement and membrane processing technology. Processed digestate was subsequently tested as a nutrient source for the cultivation of Chlorella vulgaris, up to pilot-scale (800L). Dilution of digestate down to 2.5% increased settlement rate and induced release of valuable compounds for fertiliser usage such as nitrogen and phosphorus. Settlement, as a partial processing of digestate offered a physical separation of liquid and solid fractions at a low cost. Membrane filtration demonstrated efficient segregation of nutrients, with micro-filtration recovering 92.38% of phosphorus and the combination of micro-filtration, ultra-filtration, and nano-filtration recovering a total of 94.35% of nitrogen from digestate. Nano-filtered and micro-filtered digestates at low concentrations were suitable substrates to support growth of Chlorella vulgaris. At pilot-scale, the microalgae grew successfully for 28 days with a maximum growth rate of 0.62 day-1 and dry weight of 0.86 g.L-1. Decline in culture growth beyond 28 days was presumably linked to ammonium and heavy metal accumulation in the cultivation medium. Processed digestate provided a suitable nutrient source for successful microalgal cultivation at pilot-scale, evidencing potential to convert excess nutrients into biomass, generating value from excess digestate and providing additional markets to the anaerobic digestion sector.
Alla Silkina
added an update
Managing organic waste streams is a major challenge for the agricultural industry. Anaerobic digestion (AD) of organic wastes is a preferred option in the waste management hierarchy, as this process can generate renewable energy, reduce emissions from waste storage, and produce fertiliser material. However, Nitrate Vulnerable Zone legislation and seasonal restrictions can limit the use of digestate on agricultural land. In this paper we demonstrate the potential of cultivating microalgae on digestate as a feedstock, either directly after dilution, or indirectly from effluent remaining after biofertiliser extraction. Resultant microalgal biomass can then be used to produce livestock feed, biofuel or for higher value bio-products. The approach could mitigate for possible regional excesses, and substitute conventional high-impact products with bio-resources, enhancing sustainability within a circular economy. Recycling nutrients from digestate with algal technology is at an early stage. We present and discuss challenges and opportunities associated with developing this new technology.
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
The investment site 3 of Interreg NWE ALG-AD project is located within the premises of Innolab CVBA, Oostkamp, Belgium (about 90 km North-West of Brussels). The pilot facility accommodated in a polycarbonate greenhouse comprises of a bag (paper) filtration unit for digestate pre-treatment, a 2600-litre vertical reactor (VR) and a 600-litre horizontal bioreactor (HR) operated in batch mode for microalgae cultivation. The liquid fraction of digestate used as a substrate is collected from an anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Pittem (20 km South of Oostkamp) that processes food and farm waste of plant-origin.
The commissioning and operation of the pilot facility with digestate as substrate started in mid-February. The UGent researchers and staff from Innolab supervised the tasks of inoculation, bioreactor operation, and sampling for quality control. The first experiences have been challenging due to bad weather conditions at the beginning of the year followed by the working restrictions laid due to the COVID-19 crisis from mid-March on. The restrictions reduced the involvement of UGent researchers at the pilot facility but regular contact with the Innolab team was maintained. With necessary safety measurements in place, the Innolab team has managed to keep both HR and VR running throughout the months of March – May 2020. Luckily, the used microalgae cultures are so robust that they could survive the tough growing conditions and restricted involvement of staff during these months. The first harvest of the biomass from HR was done with the help of an external company via centrifugation to produce an algal paste. In all, a good learning experience! The Investment site 3 team is now gearing up for the summertime, which will provide better availability of light and warmth and the possibility of regular visits to the facility.
“Luckily, the used microalgae cultures are so robust that they could survive the tough growing conditions and restricted involvement of operators during COVID-19" said Jai Sankar form UGhent
 
Alla Silkina
added an update
A common barrier in the transition between development and rollout of a new technology lies in regulation.
Innovation means pushing the boundaries, and policy often lags behind, causing problems and delays for those cutting-edge organisations trialling new approaches.
The ALG-AD project is working with NNFCC, a leading bio economy consultancy, to clarify where current regulatory barriers exist in relation to our work, where we are using the digestate from AD to cultivate microalgae. Our review will identify where there are grey areas which need addressing to enable larger scale adoption.
The initial regulatory review is in progress, and has highlighted that there are indeed challenges in this area – but the team are also working to provide guidance for stakeholders to navigate this difficult area.
“Regulation and policy have always been known risks for ALG-AD, and long term rollout is dependent on us being able to provide clear advice to stakeholders, and input on changes needed to policy makers.” said project manager, Louise Hall. “The fact we are starting to demystify the many tiers of legislation associated with AD, algae production and animal feed is of great significance to the project, and will be exceptionally important to the project team, and wider AD community”
 
Claudio Fuentes-Grünewald
added a research item
Municipal and agricultural waste treatment is one of the key elements of reducing environmental impact with direct effects on the economy and society. Algal technology has been tested to enable effective recycling and valorisation of wastewater nutrients including carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus. An integrated evaluation and optimisation of the sustainability of an algal bio-refinery, including mass and energy balances, carbon, water and nutrient use and impact analysis, was assessed. A bio-refinery approach of waste remediation using algal cultivation was developed at Swansea University, focusing on nutrient recovery via algal biomass exploitation in pilot facilities. Mass cultivation (up to 1.5 m 3) was developed with 99% of nitrogen and phosphorus uptake by microalgal cultures. Nannochloropsis oceanica was used as a biological model and grown on three waste sources. The compounds obtained from the biomass were evaluated for animal feed and as a potential source of energy. The bioremediation through algal biotechnology was examined and compared to alternative nutrient recovery passive and active methods in order to know the most efficient way of excess nutrient management. Conclusions emphasise the high potential of algal biotechnology for waste remediation and nutrients recovery, despite the need for further development and scalable applications of this new technology.
Catharine Jones
added an update
Engineers working on our project are currently building the photobioreactor which will be transported to our project partner in Devon.
Langage AD is an anaerobic digestion facility, and they will be working with us to grow our biomass using the digestate produced at the plant.
It's expected that construction on the bioreactor will be completed in a couple of weeks, allowing for the whole assembly to be shipped to Plymouth where it will be installed and tested before the science can really begin.
 
Catharine Jones
added a project goal
ALG-AD is an Interreg NWE funded project, which aims to use waste for sustainable growth by developing new technology to take excess waste nutrients produced from anaerobic digestion of food and farm waste to cultivate algal biomass for animal feed and other products of value.
ALG-AD brings together a group of scientists and engineers from 11 different partners in four countries across North West Europe. These academics are working together with industry to develop a circular economy solution to create wealth from waste.