Valorization of harmful algal blooms and food waste as bio-methane

Sara Plude, Goksel N. Demirer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This study evaluated anaerobic digestibility and biogas production potential of microalgal biomass and food waste. Biochemical Methane Potential (BMP) assays were conducted to determine the biogas generation potential of microalgal biomass and food waste both separately and together. Results indicated that several algal species in the collected samples are among the major harmful algal bloom (HAB) taxa found in freshwaters in North America. Bio-methane yields for mono-digestion of microalgal biomass and food waste were found to be 131–188 and 430–542 ml of bio-methane per gram of volatile solids (ml CH4/g VS), respectively; while bio-methane yield for co-digestion of microalgal biomass and food waste was 426–505 ml CH4/g VS. Co-digestion of microalgal biomass and food waste resulted in up to 12.3% increase in methane production relative to mono-digestion of these substrates. Statement of Industrial Relevance: Harmful algal blooms (HABs) have many adverse environmental impacts such as lowering dissolved oxygen concentrations, altering aquatic food webs, producing toxins, and taste-and-odor compounds. There has been a dramatic rise in the severity and geographical range of HABs with the increasing environmental degradation over the past century. This work provides a new insight in terms of integrating HABs disposal and valorization for bio-methane generation as a renewable energy. Bioenergy generation from mechanically harvested HABs along with its environmental and resource-conserving benefits are relevant to waste management and biogas industries. Significance: The results indicate that integrating mechanical harvesting of HABs with valorization of the collected algal biomass will increase its economic feasibility. Moreover, anaerobic co-digestion of HABs and food wastes generate extra bio-methane relative to mono-digestion of these substrates by balancing the C:N ratio.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13561
JournalEnvironmental Progress and Sustainable Energy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021


  • anaerobic digestion
  • biogas
  • co-digestion
  • food waste
  • microalgal biomass


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