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
Swansea
SA28PP
United Kingdom
c.a.llewellyn@swansea.ac.uk www.swansea.ac.uk
Name Contact Name Email Country
Universiteit Gent Marcella Fernandes de Souza Marcella.FernandesDeSouza@UGent.be Belgium
Karlsruher Institut für Technologie Christine Rösch christine.roesch@kit.edu Germany
Birmingham City University Lynsey Melville Lynsey.Melville@bcu.ac.uk United Kingdom
Langage AD Daniel Langton daniel.langton@langagefarm.com United Kingdom
INNOLAB Bernard Willems bernard.willems@innolab.be Belgium
Association des Chambres d'Agriculture de l'Arc Atlantique Pascal Dagron contact@ac3a.chambagri.fr France
Université de Bretagne Occidentale Denis de la Broise denis.de-labroise@univ-brest.fr France
Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Philippe Soudant philippe.soudant@univ-brest.fr France
Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l’alimentation, de l’environnement et du travail Alassane Keita Alassane.KEITA@anses.fr France
Cooperl arc Atlantique Barbara Clement-Larosiere barbara.clement-larosiere@cooperl.com France

Project News


Reasons to be optimistic – restart at Langage

Posted on

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

Data modelling tool for ALG-AD

Posted on

A challenge when adopting new technology is being able to visualise the results expected and predict outcomes to justify the investment. The ALG-AD team are working on a number of tools to help AD managers to make those difficult decisions around whether or not to implement ALG-AD on their sites. This will include a data modelling tool that will take defined parameters such as geographical location, digestate properties (in terms of nitrogen and phosphorous), type of reactor system and algal strain information, and from this will predict biomass production. Read More

A clearer regulatory picture emerges

Posted on

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. Read More

The draft legislation from WG would designate the whole of Wales as an NVZ

Posted on

Whilst environmental benefits of designating all of Wales as an NVZ would be undoubtable, this needs to be finely balanced with commercial needs of the farming community. Our work on ALG-AD is looking to help agricultural communities to achieve this balance, by finding alternative solutions for digestate, which can also generate income for AD. https://www.fuw.org.uk/en/news/13882-draconian-wg-water-quality-proposals-would-push-dairy-farms-over-the-edge-fuw-dairy-committee-warns Read More

Zoom is the new norm

Posted on

Two weeks into the new world of working from home and the Zoom conference call is now the new normal for the ALG-AD team. In fairness, the team had already been using the platform widely as we’re split across several countries. But in the era of the lockdown, our strong communications foundations have really proven themselves. Read More


In the Press



Events


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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UK Food Standards Agency pays a visit to ALG-AD

, Swansea University

Members of the Food Standards Agency have paid a visit to Swansea University, allowing staff members on the ALG-AD project to showcase their work. The ALG-AD project is aiming to create a circular economy using waste nutrients produced from the anaerobic digestion process to grow algae. The algal biomass produced will then be transformed into animal feed and other value products. The FSA staff were treated to a tour of the aquaculture facilities, followed by presentations on ALG-AD and a select few projects currently ongoing at the University.
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Swansea scientist heads to #AlgalBBB in Seattle

, Seattle, Washington, USA

Dr Claudio Fuentes Grunewald, one of our project scientists based in Swansea University, recently had the chance to talk about the work being undertaken by the project at the 8th annual International Conference on Algal Biomass, Biofuels and Bioproducts, held in Seattle. His work demonstrates the membrane technology can concentrate and purify phycoerythrin produced by P. purpureum on a large scale.
Read More


Scientific Publications



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