Upcycling the anaerobic digestion streams in a bioeconomy approach: A review

Panagiotis Tsapekos, Benyamin Khoshnevisan, Merlin Alvarado-Morales, Xinyu Zhu, Junting Pan, Hailin Tian, Irini Angelidaki*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Gaseous and liquid anaerobic digestion (AD) streams, currently are at best used for electricity and heat production or simply spreading at the fields, respectively. However, electricity and heat are economically produced from other renewables and advanced fertilizers are needed to avoid leaching and boost nutrients capture. Hence, AD seeks new opportunities to support circular bioeconomy. The overall objective of this review is to present state-of-the-art resource recovery routes for upcycling the AD streams to reduce carbon footprint and formulate alternative products to increase sustainability. Technical barriers and integrated systems to upcycle AD streams through biological means are presented. New technologies and methods to capture CH4, CO2 and nutrients from the digested residual resources are presented, as a) methanotrophs cultivation to be used as feed ingredients; b) CO2 conversion and micro-nutrients capturing from microalgae to be valorized for a wide range of applications (e.g. biofuels, food and feed, fertilizers, bioactive compounds); c) CO2 transformation to biodegradable plastics precursors (e.g. Polybutylene succinate, Polyhydroxyalkanoate); d) digestate valorization for biochar production to support efficient agricultural usage. Moreover, the environmental factors and life cycle assessment perspectives of the novel biorefinery routes are revised highlighting the need for regionalized models or assessments that can reveal the most sustainable routes based on local conditions and requirements. Despite AD poses some positive characteristics related to environmental benefit and emissions reduction, the present work reveals that the novel routes can further enhance sustainability metrics supporting circular bioeconomy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number111635
JournalRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews
Number of pages23
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Residual resources upcycling
  • Circular economy
  • Biogas
  • Digestate
  • Added value molecules


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