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Last update: May 2021

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Development of an environmental biorefinery chain for the recovery of digestates: production of methane, struvite and microalgae

Context and challenges: improving the value of digestates

In France, anaerobic digestion is developing for several years. However, the use of digestates very often limits this development and its recovery conditions are major elements of the environmental impact of the processes.

On the other hand, the depletion of fossil resources and the environmental impacts associated with their use are generating an increased need for renewable resources for the energy and chemical sectors. Thus, the production of struvite and microalgae from digestates should allow:

  • A better recycling of digestate compounds (water, nitrogen, phosphorus and carbon),
  • A reduction in nitrogen volatility and associated gas emissions,
  • A concentration and homogenization of nutrients,
  • An increase of the added value of the products generated.

Objectives: develop an environmental biorefinery chain

The anaerobic digestion process enables energy recovery from the organic carbon contained in organic waste and effluents. However, the other elements, in particular nutrients such as nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), are not valorized by this process. The ambition of the BIOMSA project is to complete the anaerobic digestion process with other processes in order to develop an environmental biorefinery chain. The complementary processes studied during this project are membrane separation, struvite precipitation and microalgae culture. This chain of processes makes it possible to produce, in addition to methane, struvite and microalgae.

However, the design and overall optimization of this chain of processes is proving to be complex and the project relies on three complementary methodological approaches:

  • An experimental approach of the different processes for the development of numerical simulation models,
  • A numerical approach for the optimization of the technological chain,
  • An ecodesign approach to the process chain.

Reduce the environmental impacts associated with the use of digestates and produce new resources

The BIOMSA biorefinery chain should make it possible to increase the profitability of the anaerobic digestion sector and promote its development by:

  • Reducing the environmental impacts associated with the use of digestates,
  • Producing high added value compounds such as struvite and microlalgae.

Indeed, the struvites thus produced constitute a quality phosphate fertilizer while the microalgae can be used as biofertilizers, biostimulants, biofuels, etc.

Contact : Fabrice Béline 


Equipment for the cultivation of microalgae in open ponds

culture de microalgues en bassin ouvert