Tailoring the Anaerobic Digestion Process for the Conversion of Halophyte Biomass in an Integrated Biorefinery Concept for Energy and Nutrient Valorization

Project Details


Currently with the rapid growth in global population, the ability to supply the increasing global demand for food, water, soil and energy remains a major global challenge. Worldwide, the large population lives and resides in the scarcity of water due to limited supply of freshwater and agricultural production, and sustainability continues to experience inexorable constraints as arable lands are severely impacted by limited freshwater resources and soil salinization. Thus, pressing the scientific communities to explore alternative approaches to existing resource sustainability management methods. The utilization of saline agriculture for halophyte production will expand the use of unexploited saline affected regions, reducing the demand of freshwater by using seawater irrigation without hindering their biomass or seed yields. Hence, halophyte plants are an exemplary candidate for bioenergy crop and to a further extent creating an avenue to increase the availability of biomass feedstock in arid or semi-arid regions that can potentially be used as a source of energy for a desalination system to supply sustainable freshwater.
This project is based on the premise that anaerobic digestion (AD) technology is the most suitable option to convert the organic residual streams in a halophyte-based biorefinery to which biogas can be utilized in an optimum design and evaluation of a Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination system in order to be sustainably viable for remote and arid regions. This biorefinery approach is expected to mitigate the inhibiting components including but not limited to salt concentration, phytochemicals with antimicrobial activity and lignin through different up-stream pretreatment and extraction processes. Therefore, considerably increasing the conversion efficiencies of halophytic biomass in the AD process. Comprehensive research and experiments will identify possible process hindrances and overcoming strategies, theoretical maximum and practical biogas potential from biomass feedstock and establish co-digestion with other organic residues as well as the determination of optimal process conditions will ensure an optimized biogas process. Consequently, this project will further develop new knowledge and test this hypothesis through extensive research to establish a stable AD process of halophyte plant biomass with high biogas/biomethane yields that can be used for large-scale application in biogas plants and that can potentially be a source of fuel to drive a RO desalination process.

Funding: European Union’s Horizon 2020
Effective start/end date01/10/202130/09/2024


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