Waste biorefineries — integrating anaerobic digestion and microalgae cultivation for bioenergy production

Yi di Chen, Shih Hsin Ho, Dillirani Nagarajan, Nan qi Ren, Jo Shu Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

87 Citations (Scopus)


Commercialization of microalgal cultivation has been well realized in recent decades with the use of effective strains that can yield the target products, but it is still challenged by the high costs arising from mass production, harvesting, and further processing. Recently, more interest has been directed towards the utilization of waste resources, such as sludge digestate, to enhance the economic feasibility and sustainability of microalgae production. Anaerobic digestion for waste disposal and phototrophic microalgal cultivation are well-characterized technologies in both fields. However, integration of anaerobic digestion and microalgal cultivation to achieve substantial economic and environmental benefits is extremely limited, and thus deserves more attention and research effort. In particular, combining these two makes possible an ideal ‘waste biorefinery’ model, as the C/N/P content in the anaerobic digestate can be used to produce microalgal biomass that serves as feedstock for biofuels, while biogas upgrading can simultaneously be performed by phototrophic CO 2 fixation during microalgal growth. This review is thus aimed at elucidating recent advances as well as challenges and future directions with regard to waste biorefineries associated with the integration of anaerobic waste treatment and microalgal cultivation for bioenergy production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-110
Number of pages10
JournalCurrent Opinion in Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering


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