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

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

In the Press


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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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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Meet the Team



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