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

Using waste nutrients to cultivate microalgae – Swansea team publishes new peer-review paper

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A Swansea University team has published a new article, detailing a novel approach to reuse food and farm waste at an industrial scale, using microalgae. The paper explains the ways in which algae can be cultivated using excess nutrients, the optimum two-step approach used to maximise productivity, and how this biomass is optimally suited for use as an animal feed ingredient. Implementation of circular approaches in industry, by minimising waste and optimising reuse of resources, is of critical environmental importance. Microalgal cultures are particularly adept at waste remediation, and are also incredibly versatile in how they can be processed and applied. This article explains in more detail how the ALG-AD team have demonstrated the ability of microalgae to remediate organic waste at an industrial scale. Read More

Circular Economy in action: Using digestate to cultivate microalgae for fish and animal feed

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ALG-AD is exploring ways to develop a circular approach to microalgae cultivation, utilising the by-products from the AD/biogas industry, to generate products of value for another. The team has built three facilities that are already using the nutrients in digestate to cultivate microalgae. So far, the ALG-AD team has focussed on the production of biomass for use as animal feed, however additional funding has been allocated to the team to expand on the work already done to also cultivate algae for use as fish feed. Read More

ALG-AD exhibition - Derval experimental farm

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ALG-AD exhibition at Derval experimental farm (FR) presented at AC3A General Assembly to 27 presidents and directors of Chambers of Agriculture part of the network On 8th October 2020, AC3A brought together its members – representatives of the Chambers of Agriculture – for its Annual General Assembly. At the heart of the discussions: innovation, with a focus on several European projects including the ALG-AD project dedicated to the cultivation of microalgae grown on digestate. Read More

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

In the Press


Introducing ALG_AD to end-of-waste business platform in Ghent

, Ghent University

Our colleague Jai Sankar Seelam gave an introductory pitch on the project to colleagues and students at an inspiring afternoon events at the university. His talk took place in a session which was organised by an end-of-waste business platform. It was billed as a unique opportunity to learn about the strategic developments in policy and industry, and current efforts at the faculty, and of the the efforts being made towards a more sustainable future.
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Super Science Sunday Swansea 2019

, The Waterfront Museum, Swansea, Wales, UK

Swansea University’s Oriel Science hosted “Super Science Sunday” at the National Waterfront Museum, during British Science Week 2019. Visitors of all ages saw a huge range of interactive science exhibits, from animals and insects to black holes and astronauts! They were able to spend the day exploring current research with hands on learning, which was suitable for the entire family.
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ALG-AD on display at Ghent academic event

, Ghent University, Belgium

The 24th National Symposium for Applied Biological Sciences (NSABS) on 4 February 2019 at Ghent University! NSABS 2019 was an event which brought together junior researchers, postdocs and group leaders in the field of applied biological sciences. The full-day symposium encompassed a wide variety of research topics in applied biological sciences, and encouraged PhD students to present their work, meet and exchange ideas across researchers and institutions. It was an opportunity to present research to a broad audience and offered the opportunity for networking among colleagues.
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Scientific Publications

Meet the Team



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