ALG-AD - Creating value from waste nutrients by integrating algal and anaerobic digestion technology

Project Summary

What is ALG-AD?

ALG-AD is a Interreg NWE funded project in which new technology is being developed 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.


Why is the project necessary?

There is an urgent need to develop sustainable food and farming.  

North West Europe is a densely populated and intensely agricultural area. It thus contributes disproportionately to food and farm waste produced in the EU each year.

Increasing amounts of food and farm waste are processed using anaerobic digestion (AD). AD converts waste to biogas used for energy and a liquid nutrient rich digestate, most of which is returned to land as a biofertiliser.

However, there are strict limits on the amount of digestate which is allowed to be put back on agricultural  land. Strict limits are imposed with EU legislation and so-called Nitrate Vulnerable Zones. This is increasingly creating excess unwanted nutrients. 

The ability to use these excess nutrients to produce new products presents a circular economy solution. 


How can ALG-AD help?

ALG-AD combines algal and AD technology.  Microalgae, mainly photosynthetic microorganisms will be cultivated, converting the unwanted nutrients into biomass. The cultivated algal biomass is rich in protein and other useful compounds, and can be used to generate sustainable animal feed products and other useful bio-products.


What is ALG-AD doing?

ALG-AD has completed three pilot facilities construction at 3 distinct ‘real life conditions locations in North West Europe: Devon (UK), Ghent (Be) and Brittany (Fr). Each facility used local conditions to grow the algae and record results. Information from the three pilots is used to generate Decision Support Tools. These tools together with a demonstration to stakeholders promote the adoption of the new technology.

The valorisation of produced algal biomass will be achieved through the animal feed preparation. The process of hydrolysation of algal biomass with the assessment of pathogens and heavy metals level, permitting to use this biomass for the animal (piglet and fish) nutrition trials. 


European Regional Development Fund

Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Swansea University 1 Singleton Park
United Kingdom
Name Contact Name Email Country
Universiteit Gent Marcella Fernandes de Souza Belgium
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie Christine Rösch Germany
Birmingham City University Lynsey Melville United Kingdom
Langage AD Daniel Langton United Kingdom
INNOLAB Bernard Willems Belgium
Association des Chambres d'Agriculture de l'Arc Atlantique Pascal Dagron France
Université de Bretagne Occidentale Denis de la Broise France
Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Philippe Soudant France
Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail Alassane Keita France
Cooperl arc Atlantique Barbara Clement-Larosiere France

Project News

ALG-AD at the World Biogas Summit 2020

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Dr Alla Silkina and Professor Lynsey Melville presented ALG-AD in the Research and Innovation hub at the World Biogas Expo 2020 this week. Information about our work was shared with an international audience, including the latest results on digestate processing, algal cultivation and the exciting compounds found within the algae grown on digestate. Read More

Circular Economy in Wales – latest developments

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The Circular Economy Research and Innovation Group (CERIG) Wales met last week to share project and policy updates, as well as to consider the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. Representatives from Welsh Government updated the group on national regulation developments, and current CE consultation processes, seeking feedback on proposals to:- • move towards zero waste by 2050 • scrutinise how we use resources • encourage the reuse, repair and remanufacture products and materials • maximise the economic and social opportunities of a more circular economy. Participants also considered implications for UK businesses of the EU’s Circular Economy Action Plan, for example, the mandatory requirements to increase the sustainability of goods and services, and how this might be approached. Read More

ALG-AD experiments resuming at Swansea University

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While large-scale operations across the partnership have resumed full steam, laboratory work has also restarted at Swansea University where new results are expected to provide new insights for the implementation of the ALG AD technology. The experimental work is looking into exploring microalgal growth performances and biochemical composition, when cultivated on a range of digestates provided by the ALG-AD partners and originating from different waste sources: kitchen and food waste, pig manure, and plant waste. The three digestates are being used to grow the microalgae Chlorella vulgaris and Scenedesmus obliquus at Swansea University and the experiment will also be conducted on a microalgal consortium (Desmodesmus sp. and Chlorella sp.) and on the oil-rich fungus Aurantiochytrium mangrovei in Belgium and in France, respectively. Read More

ALG-AD Investment site UGENT-INNOLAB in Belgium: General introduction and operation during the COVID-19 crisis

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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 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. Read More

ALG-AD virtual open day welcomes an international audience

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The ALG-AD team today welcomed over 50 attendees to a virtual open day at our pilot algal cultivation facility at Langage AD. The whole UK ALG-AD team took part in the event, which included presentations and interactive breakout sessions to give attendees a chance to take part in discussions. Dr. Alla Silkina, who organised the event, noted “This has been an excellent opportunity to showcase the work we have been doing at Langage. We had some great, challenging questions, and got the chance to understand the perspectives of AD stakeholders through the session” Louise Hall, Project Manager, added “We had hoped to welcome visitors to the Langage site for a face to face open day, however, the current Covid restrictions meant the team had to be creative and find an alternative way to share practical demonstrations with stakeholders. Through videos, photographs, and talks, the team managed to share the story of our work so far, and I am very grateful to everyone for their efforts.” Read More

The algal cultivation activity at Cooperl Arc Atlantique (France) restarted on 15th of June.

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The Covid-19 pandemic situation in France affected the operation of the algal production pilot. Access to the pilot was restricted from the middle of March and the research team could only work analysing previously obtained data, without access to the laboratory and cultivation facilities. As a result, the data review has shown the importance to add certain elements to the media such as micronutrients and metals. Now, that lockdown restrictions have been lifted in France, the algal cultivation reactor at Cooperl managed by the research team from CNRS is prepared for the new batch of thraustochytrids microalgae Aurantiochytrium mangrovei. The media has been adjusted with new nutrient compounds, and a new inoculation has been completed. The team in France follow a heterotrophic approach to algal cultivation Read More

Reasons to be optimistic – restart at Langage

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The doors are open again at Langage AD, where the team are optimistic that a quick restart will enable a successful summer algal culture growth season on ALG-AD. Jose Ignacio Gayo Pelaez and Vanessa Ndovela have returned to the greenhouse at AD plant location this week, where changes in COVID-19 restrictions have meant that work can restart at Langage. With the strict observation of social distancing protocols and adjustment to standard operating procedures, the 2 team members responsible for growing the microalgae are back at work. The first task is to clean and sterilize all the equipment, especially Photobioreactor to be ready for inoculation at the start of June. Read More

In the Press

Microalgae culture to recover nutrients from manure

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ALG-AD, a project funded by Interreg Northwest Europe, is developing a new technology to use excess nutrients produced by the anaerobic digestion of food and agricultural waste to grow algal biomass for animal feed and other valuable products, according to an announcement from Cooperl, a private swine production cooperative based in France. Cooperl is a partner on the project. Read More

Using algae to promote agricultural sustainability and the circular economy

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Algae are being used to develop new technology to clean up waste. Scientists at Swansea University are leading on a €5.5 Million eco-innovative project. The ALG-AD project could potentially result in a circular economy solution whereby excess waste nutrients produced from anaerobic digestion of food and farm waste are used to cultivate algal biomass for animal feed and other products of value. Read More


ALG-AD at the World Biogas Summit 2020, 6-8th of October

, Online

Dr Alla Silkina and Professor Lynsey Melville presented ALG-AD in the Research and Innovation hub at the World Biogas Expo 2020 this week. Information about our work was shared with an international audience, including the latest results on digestate processing, algal cultivation and the exciting compounds found within the algae grown on digestate. Lynsey also talked about the Decision Support Tools, which are being developed to enable stakeholders to explore the potential of microalgae in relation to their own AD scenarios, and requested feedback and input from any interested stakeholders . If any interested AD plant managers or farmers with onsite AD wish to get in touch to discuss the potential of ALG-AD, we welcome you to get in touch, either through individual team members, our social media channels, or via Project manager, Louise Hall –
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, Virtual open day of Langage AD pilot, Devon, UK

The ALG-AD team will be holding an open day at Langage AD for interested stakeholders. It will be an opportunity to share our expertise on our solution to valorise excess digestate, by growing algae. And it offers an opportunity to introduce more people to the decision support toolset which is under development. The event will take place on 29th June 2020, and will be a virtual event which can be attended online. Please ensure this date is placed in your diary and let us know of your interest by contacting Alla SILKINA at :
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EBA Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) Webinar "Research agenda on biogas in Europe”

, Online webinar

EBA organised a Scientific Advisory Council (SAC) Webinar "Research agenda on biogas in Europe” as an anchor point for biogas research in Europe. the aim of this event was to bring research institutes closer to stakeholders from other sectors (industry, policy) through the EBA channels, so that involved actors can better identify and benefit from emerging opportunities (workshops, conferences, dissemination tools, project proposals, etc.) The ALG-AD project was presented by Pr Carole Llewellyn and shared the latest results from industrially installed pilots.
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ALG-AD invites AD plant managers/owners and novel feed producers to workshop and OPEN DAY

, Innolab, Marechalstraat 70, 8020 Oostkamp, Belgium

AD plant managers/owners and novel feed producers are being invited to join the ALG-AD project at a workshop which will be held in February at its pilot facility in Oostkamp, Belgium. The event, planned for Thursday 13th February 2020, offers delegates the opportunity to find out more about the work being done on the project and to contribute to its further development and long term implementation. We would specifically like to receive information from the delegates on the criteria needed for them to adopt the ALG-AD technology in the future.
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Scientific Publications

Meet the Team

Swansea University

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Swansea University is the lead partner and is responsible for all project management and communication activities. The university is also responsible for the construction and operation of the investment at Langage AD in Plymouth. In addition SU will contribute to all work packages, delivering and sharing technical results and best practice. Read More

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