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Algal-bacterian processes

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Basic Information

  • UniversityUniversidad de Valladolid
  • Center
  • DepartmentChemical Engineering and Environmental Technology
  • Investigation GroupEnvironmental technology


OPTIMIZATION OF BIOGAS PRODUCTION THROUGH ALGAL BIOMASS - Main researchers: Sara Isabel Elvira-Pérez - Raúl Muñoz Torre - PhD student: Marta Alzate Andrade - Microalgae ability to attach CO2, nutrients (N, P) and storing solar energy in their cells through photosyntesis makes them an interesting alternative of green energy (biofuel and biogas) and sewage treatment technologies. In comparison to conventional plants, microalgae have higher growth rates and can be grown in non-arable land. For this reason, microalgae grown for biogas production cannot compete with crops for human nutrition. The use of microalgae in sewage treatment results in bigger amounts of biomass that need to be removed. Likewise, biodiesel production through microalgae would generate huge amounts of algae waste. An alternative to this biomass’ waste is anaerobic digestion,which transform this wastes in CH4, which can, in turn, transform into different kinds of energy (heat, electricity, etc.) - ALGAL-BACTERIAN PROCESSES FOR AGRICULTURAL SEWAGE TREATMENT - Main researchers: Raúl Muñoz Torre y Mónica Coca - PhD student: Esther Posadas Olmos - The high energy requirements and the operational complexity of sludge conventional systems of activated sludge for agricultural sewage treatment have made its implementation in rural areas harder. Similarly, the implementation of anaerobic digestion, even though it combines organic matter removal with biogas production, is usually restricted by an insufficient nutrient removal, the need for a complex process control (charge and temperature) and the unfavorable C/N relation of agricultural sewage. Besides, none of the already mentioned treatment methods present a significant potential of nutrient recovery, which means a serious limitation in the search of the world’s sustainable development. The high energetic costs and the scarcity of natural resources make it necessary to develop sustainable processes for pollution control with a low-power consumption and a potential for resources recovery. For this reason, the development of methods for cost-efficient and environmentally friendly sewage treatments is essential to create a sustainable activity in agricultural processes. STRATEGIES OF PETROL ACCUMULATION IN MICROALGAE GROWN IN SEWAGE. - Main researchers: Raúl Muñoz Torre and Pedro García Encina - PhD student Cynthia Alcántara Pollo - The current scenario of depletion of energetic fossil energetic resources, the increasing of petrol prices and global warming as a result of the accumulation of greenhouse effect gases; all these things are causing an investigation on the production of fuel from renewable biomass. Conventional biodiesel is a type of fuel mainly produced from vegetal oils, which despite their smaller CO2 footprint (compared to fossil fuels), can also produce a negative environmental impact. On the one hand, pesticidals and fertilizers overexploit the grounds. On the other hand, competition for farmland could cause a global food crisis if they are expected to meet the world's real demand for fuel. - ALGAL-BACTERIAN SYSTEMS FOR SIMULTANEOUS BIOGAS H2S AND CO2 REMOVAL - Main researchers: Raúl Muñoz Torre - Postdoctoral researcher: Alma Toledo. VALORIZATION OF AGRICULTURAL EFFLUENTS THROUGH THE USE OF MICROALGAE IN ORDER TO OBTAIN BIO-PRODUCTS - Main researchers: Raúl Muñoz Torre and Silvia Bolado Rodríguez - PhD student: Dimas García - The purpose of this project is to obtain bioproducts from microalgae biomass through recyling sewage nutrients of agricultural processing to improve the economical and environmental sustainability of the process. The project integrates the production and valorization of microalgae under the concept of biorefinery, and determines its economic viability through Life Cycle Analysis (in Spanish, ACV.) In this project, two different strategies regarding biomass use are considered: Firstly, the direct use of biomass as food in aquaculture, or the production of biofertilizers or biogas. Secondly, the processing of biomass in order to obtain different products of industrial interest. Since microalgae biomass consists mostly of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, the products to be obtained are the following: 1) Proteins that will be used for animal nutrition by mixing it with fodder, 2) Alcohols obtained through the pre-treatment and fermentation of algae biomass, 3) oils from lipid fraction that can be used in animal food, 4) biogas obtained through anaerobic digestion of algae residual biomass. In order to close the cycle of biomass production, the CO2 generated by anaerobic digestion of residual microalgae will be recycled to the stage of production of algae biomass, so that the production system will act as a CO2 sink, reducing the emission of greenhouse effect gases. Therefore, this holistic approach will allow bio-products to be obtained from the recycling of nutrients from agricultural sewage while contributing to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Other information

Number of researchers:


Technological Line(s):

- Energy efficiency
- Renewable energy
- Sustainability and industrial environment
- Equipment and instrumentation
- Infrastructures

Development status:

In research and development phase

Differentiation in the market:


Applicability of technology:



• Chemical analysis lab - Equipment for water, waste and gas characterization. - pH determination, Chemical oxygen demand (in Spanish, DQO) solids, nitrogen, phosphorus, extractives, lignin... • Instrumental analysis lab - Gas chromatographs with MS-Thermal desorption detectors, FID, TCD, ECD... - Liquid chromatographs with IC-UV detectors, IR-Diode, - Luminometer, - Spectrophotometer, - Fluorometer, - TOC/TN analyzer, - Size particle analyzer, - Espirometers, - FTIR, - Specific H2S and gas NH3 sensors. • Molecular biology lab - Electrophoresis equipment, - Southern-blot equipment, - Thermal cycler (PCR and real time PCR module) + software, - Bead-beter equipment with cellular disruption, - Kits for DNA/RNA extraction and purification (lineal and plasmid), - Electrophoresis gases display equipment + software, - Epifluorescence microscope + camera + software, - Hybridization ovens, freezers (-20, -80 ºC), - Cabinets for DNA/RNA handling with UV module, - Refrigerated centrifugal - Autoclaves. • Pilot plants - Plant for steam explosion, AFEX, - thermostat-controlled incubation chambers, - Heat and cold chambers, - Bubble bioreactors with recirculation, - Biotrickling filters, - Air-lift bioreactors, - Stirred-tank bioreactors and fluidized bed bioreactors, - Gas and liquid fermenters, - Anaerobic digestors (wet and dry processes) - HRAP 180L, - Tubular photo-bioreactors.

Additional Information:

The Environmental Technology Research Group have several technical equipment in their facilities to perform their research. For each activity, this equipment consists of: -Pilot studies of biodegradability: Upflow Anaerobic Sludge Bed (UASB) (0.5 - 200L), membrane bioreactors, dry digestion. - Sludge pre-treatment and solid waste:Thermal hydrolysis, ultrasound, enzymatic incubation - Pilot studies of biofiltration for VOC and odor treatment: Biofilters activated sludge difussion, biotricking filters, two-phase partitioning bioreactors. - Dynamic surveillance of microbian population for EDAR - Microalgae culture in high-speed algae ponds Besides of the already mentioned research activities supported by public institutions, the research group has actively collaborated with several companies with the aim of strengthening the transfer of knowledge between the University and the Industry. In this context, the Environmental Technology Research Group has participated in 40 publicly funded projects (with a total budget of €4,879,217 and 47 privately financed projects (with a total budget of €6,155,167). The Group currently consists of 10 Major Researchers, 5 PostDocs, 15 Doctorates, 2 Researches and 5 Technicians. Besides, the Group has defended 26 thesis, 174 ISI publications, 16 non-ISI publications, 178 international congresses and 6 patents.


3310 - Industrial technology

Other members:

Pedro Antonio García Encina
Mar Peña Miranda
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María Fernández Polanco
Sara I. Pérez Elvira
Raúl Muñoz Torre
Rubén Irusta
Silvia Bolado
Raquel Lebrero
Aitor Aizpuru
Nuria Martín
Araceli Crespo
Enrique Marco
Mónica Gay Martín
Daniel Fernández Planillo
Miguel Ángel Mouriz
Jonatan Prieto
Patricia Ayala
Rebeca Pérez
Esther Arnáiz
Rebeca López Serna
Elisa Rodríguez
Esther Posadas
Rodolfo Travaini
Sonia Martínez Páramo
Israel Díaz
José Manuel Estrada
Ieva Sapkaite
Juan Carlos López
Natalia Alfaro
Osvaldo Frutos
Sara Cantera
Judit Martín
Dimas García
Ilker Arkmirza
Ana Lorenzo
Thiago Do Nascimiento
Ricardo Saavedra Concha
David Marín de Jesús
María del Rosario Rodero
Roxana Ángeles Torres
Yadira Rodríguez
Cristina Álvarez Requena
Jaime Benito
Nereida Pérez



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