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 Alexandre Morin France
Université de Bretagne Occidentale Denis de la Broise France
Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Philippe Soudant France
Cooperl arc Atlantique Barbara Clement-Larosiere France

Project News

Feasibility of using microalgae grown on digestate as a feed ingredient for aquaculture demonstrated by the latest ALG-AD experiments

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A recent report produced by Swansea University researchers has highlighted the benefits of including microalgae, grown using nutrients that would otherwise go to waste, as a fish feed. Experiments conducted with tilapia – a fish used extensively as a model species for aquaculture research – showed that replacement of the majority of fish meal used in aquafeed with a microalgae substitute is possible, with no detrimental welfare effects on the fish. Whilst growth rates of the fish fed with the ALG-AD feed were slower, there were no harmful effects on the animals, and the growth rate differences could be linked to the fish getting used to the new feed, supported by analysis of the fish microbiome. Additionally, the ALG-AD feed resulted in a greater microbial diversity, which conveys better immunity for the fish. Importantly, however, the fatty acids within the fish were significantly improved by using the ALG-AD feed, and higher levels of Omega-6, in particular, were found. This fatty acid, known to provide health benefits, could improve the commercial value of the fish. Read More

From Anaerobic Digestion to Microalgae: Reflections from the ALG-AD networking event

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ALG-AD project partners gathered together with an international audience this week to present results from our work cultivating algae using digestate. Presentations covered the full end to end process, from digestate to algae to animal feed, and speakers took part in Q & A sessions with attendees, and all visitors were able to network in a virtual conference area. Visitors were also able to run through a demonstration of the decision support tools with the development team, as well as exploring a range of project related video and exhibition content, and accessing a virtual gift bag to take away from the event. Feedback from attendees was positive, and there were some interesting discussions with the team regarding future ideas and collaborations. We thank our project partners at AC3A for hosting such an innovative event and developing an engaging programme of ALG-AD virtual events. You can access our past webinars and videos on our YouTube channel, and follow us on social media to keep in touch with future events. Read More

The European Sustainable Phosphorous Platform Webinar brings together a European network

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A relevant and extremely well-attended webinar was convened by the European Sustainable Phosphorous Platform on Monday 22nd March, to discuss regulatory obstacles concerning nutrient valorisation from waste-derived algae. Over 500 attendees engaged with short presentations and extensive chat discussions based on the information shared by European projects and organisations, all highlighting the regulatory challenges being faced in their respective contexts. Read More

Spring newsletter is here!

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ALG-AD has recently sent out our Spring newsletter to share developments and results, team member profiles, as well as upcoming events. You can sign up to join the mailing list here – we are hoping to release these on a quarterly basis, and hope you find them useful! Any feedback on the newsletters, please contact Louise Hall, 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


The second webinar in the EBA 'Biogas Lab webinar series'


The second webinar in the EBA 'Biogas Lab webinar series' was on Wednesday 10 February from 15:30 to 17:30 CET. During the event, the latest practice-oriented research tackling the biogas value chain was presented. Along with that, experts from the industry were showcased innovative technologies enhancing the environmental performance of the biogas plants and new processes to scale up renewable gas production. The ALG-AD project was presented by Dr Alla Silkina
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L’exposition ALG-AD à la ferme expérimentale de Derval

, France

L’exposition ALG-AD à la ferme expérimentale de Derval (44) présentée à l’Assemblée générale de l’AC3A, devant les 27 présidents et directeurs des Chambres d’agriculture membres du réseau Le 8 octobre dernier, l'Assemblée générale de l'AC3A a réuni les représentants des Chambres d'agriculture membres de l’association. Au cœur des discussions : l'innovation, avec un focus sur plusieurs projets européens dont le projet ALG-AD dédié à la culture de microalgues à partir de digestat.
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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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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


Fifth WEBINAR_Challenges and results, after 2 years of microalgae production using digestate: the British pilot site.


Challenges and results, after 2 years of microalgae production using digestate: the British pilot site. This event took place on the 13 of May of 2021, with Dr Claudio Fuentes Grünewald, research officer in the Faculty of Science and Engineering, Department of Biosciences at Swansea University, and Prof Darren Oatley-Radcliffe, chemical, and bioprocess engineer.
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Second webinar _The microalgae for the treatment of wastewater and digestate


The second ALG-AD event was held on 28th January, and colleagues and interested stakeholders again connected to hear two speakers share their knowledge relating to digestate processing, algal cultivation and the potential commercial markets for microalgae. Fleuriane Fernandes from Swansea University, shared a detailed and comprehensive presentation about the work of the ALG-AD project, followed by Lucie van Haver, who shared an overview of the work of Algosolis, a specialist microalgae R & D organisation based in St. Nazaire, France. Attendees at the event raised several questions, and the team always welcome these discussions with interested people working in the sector! The ALG-AD project will soon release best practice guidelines, and our publications can also be accessed through links on our website. We will also be releasing Decision Support Tools and economic assessments to help interested stakeholders explore the viability of microalgae production using digestate.
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