National Institute for Research and Development in Electrical Engineering ICPE-CA


Develop and validate reliable solutions to produce biogas from algal biomass in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve
(Acronym BIOALG)

Project Registration Code: PN-III-P2-2.1-PED-2016-0068

Contract Number: 170PED/2017

Finance Source: State budget

Programme: Programme 2 - Increase Competitiveness of the Romanian Economy through Research, Development and Innovation, Subprogramme 2.1. Competitiveness through Research, Development and Innovation

Research Domain: 1 - Bioeconomy

Project Type: Experimental demonstrative project (PED)

Contract Budget: 475.000 lei

Duration: 17 months (17.08.2017 – 31.12.2018)

Contracting Authority: Executive Agency for Higher Education, Research, Development and Innovation Funding (UEFISCDI)




Research teams:

Project objectives:

Project stages:

Expected results:


Using the algae biomass to produce biogas is a technique still not implemented in Romania despite the great potential of algae biomass in the delta-coastal areas and the climatic conditions that enable the development of such green technologies, to improve the local energy security and the environment quality. Worldwide there are few projects to use algae biomass for biogas but they address mostly to macro-algae grown in special ponds or bioreactors. Such solutions are expensive since they require big investment for the algal cultivation systems. This project proposes a viable solution to produce biogas from the algae biomass which is found plentifully in the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve. Given the experimental results previously achieved as well as the theoretical studies, experience exchange and laboratory tests which the applicant approached within former projects in the field of biogas solutions and delta ecosystems, we assert that the project proposal starts from a formulated concept of the technology and product (TRL 2) and will materialize in the laboratory experimental demonstration model (TRL 3). Thus, a fermentation technology and a laboratory model will be developed to perform anaerobic digestion tests for the selected algae which are most abundant in the delta-coastal areas. The algae will be characterized before each experiment, the biogas quality will be evaluated during the anaerobic digestion and the fermented slurry will be analyzed to assess its fertilizer properties. The project will be carried out by a consortium of two research institutes having rich experience in biogas technologies, respectively in assessing and improving the aquatic ecosystems. The experimental results aim to demonstrate and validate the proposed solutions to produce biogas for the communities living in the delta-coastal areas and to improve the local environment. The innovative issues will be protected by a patent application and will be disseminated in scientific journals.

Research teams:
Coordinator CO - INCDIE ICPE-CA Bucharest

1. Mateescu Carmen, doctor in chemical engineering, speciality environment technologies
2. Butoi Nicoleta Oana, master student, biologist
3. Babutanu Corina, doctor in energetic engineering
4. Oprina Gabriela, doctor in energetic engineering
5. Ducu Robert, PhD student, biologist
6. Alecu Georgeta, doctor in engineering sciences
7. Tanase Nicolae, PhD student in engineering sciences
8. Lungulescu Marius, doctor in chemistry
9. Luchian Ana-Maria, PhD student in chemistry
10. Voina Andreea, doctor in engineering sciences
11. Iosif Gabriela, doctor in communication sciences public relations
12. Caramitu Alina, doctor in chemical engineering
13. Ion Ioana, doctor in chemical engineering
14. Iordoc Mihai, doctor in chemistry
15. Lipcinski Daniel, engineer for technological development in research
16. Chihaia Rares, doctor in civil engineering
17. Marin Dorian, doctor in electrical engineering
18. Militaru Adrian, technician
19. Dumitru Ion, technician

Partner P1: INCDDD
1. Török Liliana, doctor in biology
2. Török Zsolt, doctor in biology
3. Bozaghievici Raluca, economist
4. Banescu Victor, technician

Project objectives: The overall project objective is to develop a laboratory experimental demonstration model aimed to validate a viable and effective solution for the energy recovery of algae biomass sampled from Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve for producing biogas and ecological fertilizers. This model will allow preliminary research that will be further required for implementing biogas technologies in the Danube delta area. As specific objectives, the project proposes the followings: Exploiting the knowledge acquired in previous researches to develop an effective fermentation technology using algae biomass which is available abundantly in the delta and the adjacent beaches and to demonstrate the appropriateness of the energy recovery of these materials for producing high quality fuel gas (methane % > 60%); Promoting the project results and the proposed solution, highlighting the multiple benefits that such recovery practice can bring for the environment, energy sector, local tourism, health and the living standard in the delta areas.

Project Stages:
Stage I: Documentary studies, demonstrative model concept and anaerobic digestion technology, algae biomass sampling and assessing, acquisition of materials and equipments.
Duration: 5 months (17.08.2017 – 31.12.2017)

Stage II: Achieving the experimental demonstrative model and performing the anaerobic digestion experiments, processes monitoring, results dissemination, patenting
Duration: 12 months (01.01.2018 – 31.12.2018)

Expected results: The estimated results to be achieved under this project are: documentary and experimental research reports; a laboratory experimental demonstration model for the anaerobic fermentation of algae biomass identified based on a documentary study on the local algae availability and their energy potential; based on a rigorous selection there will be created mixtures of fermentation substrate and will be conducted laboratory experiments of anaerobic digestion under controlled conditions and mesophilic temperature regime, to adapt to the climate conditions in the targeted areas; identifying the optimal process parameters for ensuring an advanced decomposition of the algae biomass; monitoring the biochemical processes and testing the biogas potential; patent application for the laboratory technology and demonstration model; results dissemination to promote the algae-based technological solution.


Coordinator CO: INCDIE ICPE-CA Bucharest
Project manager: Dr. eng. Carmen Mateescu

Phone: 0040213467231 / extension 115, e-mail:

Partner P1: INCDDD
Project P1 responsible: Dr. Liliana Török

Phone: 0040240524546, Fax: 0240533547, email:

Project ongoing activities:

Algae screening and sampling ("PDF")

Sites checked out for macroalgae in Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, 16 - 17 October 2017
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

In 16 - 17 October 2017 there were checked out for macroalgae the waterbodies from 19 sites (16 inside the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve and 3 close or relatively close to the limit - white line in the image - of the mentioned protected area).

Collage with the image of and maps with the layer of macroalgae covering stones along the Black Sea shore, in the Southern part of Chituc marine levee
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

The dominant macroalgae is Ulva (Enteromorpha) intestinalis (identification of the taxa was performed by Dr. Oana Alina Marin - from the Grigore Antipa National Institute for Marine Research and Development).

Close-up of filamentous algae
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

Probably Cladophora sp. is the filamentous algae which forms thick layers along the shore of the water-course from Valea Nucarilor locality (Tulcea county, Romania).

Layers with macroalgae in the water-course from Valea Nucarilor
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

I assume that the dominant species of th there were thick layers of macroalgae recorded along the shore of the small water-course from Valea Nucarilor locality (Tulcea county, Romania) belongs to genus Cladophora.

Image on the branches of a single colony of macroalgae
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

The image shows details on the branches of a single colony of macroalgae, harvested in 10.10. 2017, at Lake Ciuperca (Tulcea city, South-Eastern Romania).

Stripe with maximum biomass of macroalgae
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

Most of the macroalgae colonies are fixed to the iron parts of a boat mooring pontoon, along a stripe (of about 5 cm width) in the uppermost layer of the water (lake Ciuperca, Tulcea city, Romania).

Collage with the image of and maps with macroalgae colonies in channel at Northern limit of Cape Dolosman
Author: Dr. Zsolt Török

Colonies of macroalgae along a section without reed of the shore of the channel located at the northern limit of Cape Dolosman (Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve, Romania).

1st Stage Achievements:

1. Designing the project identification logo;

2. Creating the project RO/EN bilingual web pages;

3. Developing a research report that includes a critical research on the use of macro- and microalgae for biogas production; documentary study and field investigation on the evaluation of algae management methods; algal biomass sampling and assessing based on algal pigments;

4. Designing the draft concept of the laboratory demonstration model;

5. Elaborating the anaerobic digestion technology for the selected algal biomass;

6. Stage results dissemination

2nd Stage Specific Objectives:

• Making a TRL3 demonstration laboratory model

• Assessing algal biomass availability in the surveyed ecosystems

• Checking demonstration model functionality by conducting digestion experiments on various types of algal biomass sampled from the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve

• Monitoring digestion processes, assessing biogas production and quality

• Organizing a national symposium, attending scientific events on the project topic

• Patenting of algal biomass digestion technology and demonstration laboratory model

2 nd Stage Achievements:

• TRL3 demonstration laboratory model

• Technological study including the assessment of algal biomass availability in the surveyed ecosystems and checking the functionality of the demonstration model by reporting experimental results

• National symposium conducted by the project coordinator

• Scientific lectures held at national and international scientific events

• Patented demonstration model and digestion technology – 2 patent applications submitted to OSIM

Patent Application A00053/2018 - Experimental model for testing the biomethane potential of biomass
Authors: Mateescu Carmen, Lipcinski Daniel, Lungulescu Eduard-Marius, Tanase Nicolae, Török Liliana
This invention relates to a TRL 3 demonstration experimental laboratory model for testing the biomethane potential of biomass, which integrates into an unitary system two anaerobic fermentation bioreactors operating in parallel in a mesophilic temperature regime, adaptable for thermophilic regime. Each bioreactor is equipped with an electric heating jacket, a biogas purification line and a purified biogas harvesting recipient, while allowing biogas production to be quantified by volumetric, manometric and chromatographic methods, as well as manual or automatic sampling of raw and purified biogas samples for laboratory analysis.

Patent Application A00523/2018 - Process of algal biomass enzymatic pretreatment used for biogas production
Authors: Mateescu Carmen, Lipcinski Daniel, Lungulescu Eduard-Marius, Tanase Nicolae, Török Liliana Mateescu Carmen, Lipcinski Daniel, Lungulescu Eduard-Marius, Tanase Nicolae, Török Liliana
This invention relates to an enzymatic pretreatment of algal biomass used as a digestion substrate in anaerobic reactors for producing biogas. The pretreatment process claimed by this invention aims at dissolving compact macromolecular structures of carbohydrates (cellulose and hemicelluloses) from algal biomass under the action of a mixture of hydrolytic enzymes secreted by the following fungal species: Trichoderma reesei, Trichoderma versicolor, Penicillinum chrysosporium, Fusarium solani, Chaetomium thermophile and Myrothecium verrucaria, thus facilitating the access of anaerobic fermentation bacteria to heavily biodegradable cellulosic fibers, reducing fermentation time and increasing the production of biogas in anaerobic fermentation processes. The experimental results obtained for the Ulva intestinalis marine macroalgae which was used as substrate for mesophilic anaerobic digestion revealed significant increase in methane production in biogas by 83% for the enzymatically pretreated sample, compared to the control sample, this effect being due to the stimulatory action of the fungal mixture on biodegradation of the compact macromolecules from algae structures.