Energy recovery from wastewater microalgae through anaerobic digestion process: Methane potential, continuous reactor operation and modelling aspects

Panagiotis Tsapekos*, P.G. Kougias, Merlin Alvarado-Morales, Adam Kovalovszki, M. Corbière, Irini Angelidaki

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


A mixture of piggery slurry and algal species (mainly composed of Nannochloropsis limnetica), grown in municipal wastewater, were used as substrates for biogas production. Mono- and co-digestion experiments were performed at batch and continuous reactor operation. The mono-digestion of wastewater microalgae led to the highest methane yield (408 ± 34 N mL/gVS). However, for manure-based biogas plants, a 60:40 v/v piggery slurry to wastewater microalgae ratio in terms of organic matter was identified as the most efficient mixture in batch assays (355 ± 27 N mL/gVS). The advantage of co-digestion was also evidenced under continuous reactor operation, which had markedly higher biogas production (23%, p < 0.05) compared to the mono-digestion of livestock manure. Moreover, it was demonstrated that the co-digestion process resulted in a more robust process as indicated by lower accumulation of acetate (i.e. presented during mono-digestion of piggery slurry) and propionate (i.e. recorded during mono-digestion of wastewater microalgae). The experimental data were compared with dynamic modelling (BioModel). A new set of biodegradability parameters was estimated and employed to improve the simulations of mono-digestion scenarios. Subsequently, the co-digestion scenario was used for model validation. Results obtained from simulations showed that the co-digestion can lead to relatively high methane productivity and prevent process instabilities.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiochemical Engineering Journal
Pages (from-to)1-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Wastewater microalgae
  • Pigger slurry
  • Anaerobic digestion
  • Biogas
  • Methane
  • Modelling

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