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

Circular Economy in Wales – latest developments

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Posted on

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

Data modelling tool for ALG-AD

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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

In the Press


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.
Read More

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


Meet the Team



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