ICM Launches PRODIGIO Project to Boost Microalgae Biogas


The project intends to bring microalgae biogas production technologies to commercialization faster. Credit: ICM-CSIC

The recently launched EU project PRODIGIO, coordinated by the Institut de Ciències del Mar (ICM), intends to bring microalgae biogas production technologies to commercialization faster.

PRODIGIO’s team aims to develop a system failure prediction technology that increases the performance of microalgae biomass production and anaerobic digestion systems resulting in favorable techno-economic, environmental and social performance.

While microalgal biomass represents a potential green energy source for the production of biogas when processed using anaerobic digestion methods neither microalgae biomass production systems nor anaerobic digesters are optimized for commercial-scale implementation.

A bio-process’s financial success is directly related to its level of process control sophistication, and therefore the future microalgae biomass production and conversion-to-biogas systems will need improved monitoring and control systems for high-level process optimization.

Performance Improvement

PRODIGIO will improve microalgae biomass and biogas production yields, resulting in a fully integrated, digitized and truly sustainable microalgae biogas production industry.

“PRODIGIO will deepen our understanding of the causes for the failure of bioreactor systems. This will involve a huge effort in terms of data generation and processing, but it will also foster the discovery of new findings, scientific creativity and technological innovation”, said Pedro Cermeño, the project coordinator.

“Taking into account process inefficiencies, we estimate that, along with the implementation of prevention countermeasures, PRODIGIO technology could contribute to increasing resource and energy efficiencies by more than 50% throughout the microalgae biogas production chain. This would translate into operating expense savings and GHG emissions reduction,” added Dr. Cermeño.

He also pointed out that microalgae biogas production has great potential not only in Europe but also in developing countries. He is convinced that PRODIGIO’s results will also help boost microalgae-based industries dedicated to the large-scale production of low-priced commodities other than biofuels, such as food, feed or fertilizers.

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