Production of a biofertilizer using agroindustrial effluents and soil microalgae in photobioreactors

The project “LIFE + Integral Carbon: Development and global enforcement of GHG capture photobioreactors in agroindustrial activities” was financed In the last call of the LIFE+2013 Programme for Spain and Portugal; the project aims to demonstrate the efficiency of microalgae cultures to simultaneously achieve fixation of atmospheric CO2 and plant nutrients present in wastewater effluents, resulting in the production of a biofertilizer which can contribute to improving the C balance of agribusiness activities such as those developed by the dairy and winery sectors.

The project has included the creation of a consortium coordinated by the University of Burgos (UBU) with other associated project beneficiaries: the University of Valladolid (UVA), the General Foundation of the University of Valladolid (FUNGE-UVA), the firm KEPLER Engineering and Ecomanagement, the Technology Center of Extremadura (CTAEX) and Appellation Controlee (AC) of Wines of Uclés (Cuenca).

With a total budget of 1,253,361 €, the net contribution of the European Union (EU) is 602,636 €, which represents a co-financing of nearly 50% of the overall cost of the project. Included in the project LIFE + Integral Carbon is the design and implementation of two portable modules in which the anaerobic digestion of wastewater and organic waste generated in agribusiness will be transformed into biogas, a process which will be energetically valorized, and a photobioreactor where the digestate of the above process and the emitted CO2 will be used for the synthesis of algal biomass, which will eventually be applied to soil as a biofertilizer.

The company KEPLER Engineering and Eco-Management and the Research Group TADRUS of the University of Valladolid is working on the photobioreactor.

An important part of the project is the isolation and cultivation of algal and cyanobacteria species naturally occurring in soils and which have a potential effect as a soil improver, benefitting both food nutrition and soil health promoting plant growth; work on this objective is already underway within the Research Group UBUCOMP at the University of Burgos.

The generation of knowledge about soil algae is a relatively new field of study, and there is a high potential for the identification of new species of biotechnological interest.

Article published in: FuturENVIRO March 2015