ALG-AD – Reflections on ADBA National Conference 2021

Dr Lynsey Melville, Lead of the Bioresource and Bioeconomy  Research Group at Birmingham City University, as well as leader of ALG-AD decision support tool (DST) development, attended the ADBA National Conference last week. Lynsey has shared her reflections on the event and its relevance for our stakeholders.


“The ADBA conference was excellent and brought together stakeholders from across the sector in the UK!! The headline was; Green Gas: Ready to go, Ready to scale and Ready to deliver net zero, and the focus of the conference was on how AD can address some of the challenges within hardest to de-carbonise sectors including transport, heat and agriculture.


Importantly for ALG-AD, there were interesting presentations and discussions around the benefits of AD for decarbonising the agricultural sector, and also for the treatment of organic wastes from agriculture, which have very high GHG emissions. There were discussions around the importance of returning nutrients and organic matter to the soil locally (via digestate), Jonathan Scurlock of NFU described this as ‘Soil Stewardship’. There was also lots of discussion around the capture of fugitive emissions from AD, particularly methane and ammonia. The Clean Air Strategy highlights that 88% of UK ammonia emissions come from agriculture (5% from AD).

There is a requirement for all slurry and digestate stores to be covered by 2027 and this is forcing farmers to consider their nutrient management plans and improved treatment, storage, handling of digestate (both locally but also when dispersing on fields) with the Clean Air strategy proposing that low emission spreading become compulsory by 2025. Sandra Esteves (Wales Centre of Excellence for AD) discussed the innovations in AD processes, particularly biorefining and adding value through the production of e.g. Organic acids for biopolymers etc. or capture of CO2 as an additional value stream.


With regards to transport, the key advantage is that AD is an established technology, and biomethane has the potential to quickly and easily replace diesel (which governments are aiming to phase out by 2030). Freight and agricultural vehicles, in particular, are best placed to utilise green gas, as electrification and hydrogen for these vehicles may not be available for some time.. Biomethane also offers up to 81% CO2 reduction compared to Euro VI diesel.  With regards to heat, it was reported that 60% of all household energy consumption is for heat and 82% of this in the UK is produced by gas boilers. So again AD offers a ready to go solution to replace fossil fuels and decarbonise this sector.”


The ALG-AD project is offering AD stakeholders a solution to excess digestate, developing approaches to cultivate valuable microalgae using the nutrients in digestate.


Lynsey and her team are developing DSTs to support interested stakeholders to understand and explore algal cultivation opportunities in the context of their business. If you would like to find out more about the DSTs and how ALG-AD may apply to you, please contact or ALG-AD project manager


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