Combination of anaerobic digestion and microalgae growth can be used for the development of closed loop systems, where carbon and nutrients are recycled. Microalgae biomass produced can be fed to an anaerobic bioreactor, where it is converted to biogas. Subsequently, biogas can be used for energy production. CO2 released can be used for microalgae production, as well as the nutrients released during the anaerobic conversion of the microalgae. Such cycle would be actually driven by sunlight, which provides the energy required to sustain the cycle.
The main goal of the present joint exchange programme is to determine the feasibility of using sunlight transformation capacity of microalgae to enhance biogas production of anaerobic digestion processes, by means of CO2 capture from biogas and co-digestion of waste and microalgal biomass.
Successful development of a process for bioenergy production from microalgae requires a multidisciplinary approach, since it involves two different sub-processes: On one hand, microalgal cultivation and harvesting and on the other hand biogas and hydrogen production process. The IRSES partners were selected to include institutions with proved experience in both areas, both in Chile and in Europe. The consortium includes experts in algae cultivation (UHU and UANTOF), anaerobic digestion for methane and hydrogen production (IG-CSIC, ICTP, UCV and UFRO) and modelling and control of bioprocesses (UCV). Such selection is intended to promote conditions for transfer of knowledge between Chile and Europe in all the research areas related to this proposal.
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