PRODIGIO will contribute to increasing the efficiency of solar energy conversion into biogas, paving the way for the development and future implementation of a sustainable microalgae biogas production industry.

The impacts expected from the project are presented below.

Expected Impacts

Short-term Impacts
  • Knowledge advance in the ecogenomics in bioreactor systems.
  • Expand the genomic database of pathogens infesting microalgal culture systems and anaerobes residing in anaerobic reactors for facilitating biotechnological advances, centralised bioinformatic processing and open access, FAIR-compliant storage of sequencing data at MARBITS (CSIC), CIGENE (NMBU), and publicly accessible data repositories.
  • Gain further understanding of the genes, gene expression patterns, and stress response patterns of industrially-relevant microbial guilds involved in microalgae biomass production, microalgal fermentation and biomethanisation.
  • Address early warning signals to determine the failure of the microalgae fermentation process.
  • Establish the sustainability potential of microalgae biogas and identify the remaining research/technology gaps by quantifying the energy, resource balances, and biogas production costs.
Medium-term Impacts
  • Decipher the microbial “interactomes” in bioreactor systems, establishing an innovative knowledge base for future ecological engineering with the purpose of increasing resource and energy efficiency.
  • Improve bioreactor monitoring and process control systems to achieve TRL 3. Afterward, increase the resource and energy efficiency of microalgae production and AD systems, thereby moving the entire microalgae biogas production chain efficiently towards its theoretical maximum.
  • Create a roadmap to facilitate the development and future implementation of early warning technologies as an integral part of the biogas production chain.
  • Strengthen the EU leadership in renewable fuels technologies by contributing to key actions of the EU Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET-Plan) including
    • i) the development of performance renewable fuel technologies integrated into the system, and
    • ii) cost-reduction of the technologies.
  • Contribution to the Mission Innovation Challenge 4 (MIC-4): diversification of bioenergy feedstocks and improvement of renewable energy conversion efficiency into an energy carrier.
Medium-term Impacts
  • Improve monitoring and forecasting capabilities to contribute to cost reduction through, in particular, OPEX savings associated with a better management of production systems (for example, the selective application of pesticides in algae production), and greater stability of process performance. The project’s technology could increase resource and energy efficiencies by >50% throughout the biogas production chain, which would translate into OPEX savings and GHG emissions reduction.
  • Implement effective management strategies and greater performance stabilities to bring microalgae biogas faster to commercialization. The use of microalgae in wastewater treatment allows researchers to produce large quantities of biomass at low cost, close to zero cost if the benefits of using microalgae in WWT are considered.
Medium-term Impacts
  • Increase resource and energy efficiency to contribute to GHG emissions reduction compared to present-day technologies. Microalgae biogas produced from microalgae grown in wastewater has already been shown to give GHG emission reduction of ~40% relative to conventional wastewater treatment.
  • To reducing freshwater demand along the biogas production chain. Currently, the use of wastewater or seawater for microalgal biofuels production can reduce the freshwater demand by 90%. Higher processes efficiency will reduce this number further.
  • Lower environmental burdens with respect to present-day biofuel technologies:
    • i) separating bioenergy from agriculture,
    • ii) reducing indirect land-use changes,
    • iii) fostering the circular bio-economy (e.g. contributing to wastewater nutrient recovery),
    • iv) alleviating coastal areas from the growing incidence of eutrophication.
Short-term Impact
  • Contribute to environmental awareness and decision-making in renewable biofuels research, innovation, and technology.
Medium-term Impact
  • Improve professional skills and competences of bioenergy and microalgae-related sectors workers.

Further Impacts

Short-term Impacts
  • The development of early warning mathematical method based on the analysis of universal interaction networks will validate other bioreactor systems within and outside the bioenergy industry.
  • Advances in data analytics (big data analysis, bioinformatics, ecoinformatics, causal detection, empirical dynamic modelling).
  • To explore measures to prevent and/or mitigate process failure in microalgal production and conversion-to-biogas systems.
  • Further increase the tolerance and adaptive evolution of anaerobic microbiota to inhibitors and other stressful conditions.
Medium-term Impact
  • The combination of chemical fingerprinting and the interaction networks analyses can lead to the discovery of chemical compounds with antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial properties, and thus, with potential for crop protection (pesticides).
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