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Anaerobic digestion as key technology for nutrient and energy recovery in the Seawater Energy & Agriculture System (SEAS) project

PI:  Dr. Jorge Rodriguez , Associate Professor - Chemical & Environmental Engineering

The sustainability of an integrated seawater agriculture system relies not only on the direct energy balance and carbon footprint, the adequate materials and nutrients balance is an essential aspect of the SEAS sustainability. Anaerobic digestion (AD) is a natural microbial process that converts organic material into energy‐rich biogas, containing CH4 and CO2 and a nutrients‐rich digestate, typically adequate for fertilization. AD is currently a well-established technology in terms of performance and it is technically and economically feasible, however, its application to the digestion of halophyte (pre‐processed) biomass is largely under studied and the theoretical great potential of AD to bring seawater agriculture feasibility to a next level is to be assessed.

The SEAS halophyte biomass will undergo a pre‐treatment in order to extract the oil seed materials for liquid biofuel processing. This pretreatment is likely to largely enhance the hydrolysis rates of the remaining biomass, substrate for the AD reactor. In view of this, production of biogas for halophyte biomass could potentially add great value to i-SEAS in the form of carbon neutral gas biofuel.