Vimac Nolla Ardèvol


Methane production from algae at high pH ( 10)


Area: polyomics
Project Start: 1.04.2011
Supervisor(s): Prof. Dr. Olaf Kruse, Prof. Dr. Marc Strous
University: Bielefeld


Dr. Nolla Ardevol is an alumnus of the CLIB-GC. He obtained his doctoral degree from Bielefeld University and is now a postdoctoral researcher at KU Leuven in Belgium.

Vímac obtained his M. Sc. in Advanced Microbiology from the University of Barcelona in Spain before he was awarded the CLIB-GC scholarship and joined the cluster in April 2011.


Production of methane from organic material as an alternative energy source to fossil fuels has been the subject of many recent studies. Despite the rapid technological progress in this area of research, further efforts are required to optimize the efficiency of methane production from biomass in order to develop a technically and economically feasible concept for the sustainable production of methane. A possible alternative substrate for the production of methane are microalgae. Microalgae are unicellular photosynthetic micro-organisms that convert sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into biomass. Microalgae have been investigated as a potential source of renewable energy, for example in the fields of biodiesel and biogas production. However, the potential of methane production from algae has not yet been fully explored. A major issue is the CO2 limitation of microalgae growth and biomass production. One possibility to approach this issue is to grow the algae in a high pH medium. This results in higher CO2 availability due to an increase of the bicarbonate concentration. To maintain process efficiency, methanogenesis using these algae as substrate should also be done at high pH. Environmental observations show that methanogenesis occurs at pH 10 (for example in soda lakes) but this has not yet been implemented in biotechnology and even the responsible microbial community has hardly been studied.

Publication list

1. Publications related to Vimac’s PhD project

Nolla-Ardèvol, V., Strous, M., Sorokin, D.Y., Merkel, A.Y., Tegetmeyer, H.E., 2012. Activity and diversity of haloalkaliphilic methanogens in Central Asian soda lakes. J. Biotechnol. 161, 167–173.

2. Posters and presentations at international conferences

-  13th World Congress on Anaerobic Digestion. Recovering (bio) Resources for the world. Santiago de Compostela, Spain, 25 – 28 June 2013. Poster: “Anaerobic digestion of the microalga Spirulina and other substrates at high pH 10 and high salt concentration.”

-  17th International Pushchino School Conference of Young Scientist. “Biology. The science of the XXI century”. Pushchino, Russia, 21 – 26 April 2013. Presentation: “Anaerobic digestion of Spirulina at alkaline conditions”.

3. Other publications not project related but published during the thesis:

Astals, S., Nolla-Ardèvol, V., Mata-Alvarez, J., 2013. Thermophilic co-digestion of pig manure and crude glycerol: Process performance and digestate stability. J. Biotechnol. 166, 97–104.

Astals, S., Noll-Ardèvol, V., Alvarez-Mata; Joan, 2012. Anaerobic co-digestion of pig manure and crude glycerol at mesophilic conditions: Biogas and digestate. Bioresour. Technol 110, 63-70.


Vimac´s project
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