Production and evaluation of agronomic performance of microbial fertilizers from liquid waste streams

European Call(s)


Name of the organisation

University of Antwerpen - Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology Research Group

Description of the organisation

Sustainable Energy, Air and Water Technology research group water part:The research team endeavours to alleviate tensions in the nutrient-energy-water nexus through a dedicated focus on novel resource-efficient nutrient management biotechnology. In this context the core expertise lies in the production of Single Cell Protein (SCP), which is the protein rich biomass of microorganisms, and more particular in the design of bioreactors and process configurations. Next to this our research focuses on the development of dedicated microbiome steering tools with the eye on the nutritional optimization of the produced biomass in terms of essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, bulk protein,… By doing so, we ambitiously contribute in rendering global food production more sustainable at the level of the environment (maximum efficiency of resources, e.g. energy and chemicals, and minimum emissions of harmful compounds, e.g. N2O), the economy and the society at large.

Phototrophic biotechnology
Aerobic heterotrophic bacteria
Composting and aerobic solid state fermentation

Main areas of expertise

• Microbial protein production from liquid waste streams (sewage, other agricultural and food processing wastes) under a variety of different metabolisms
• Increasing COD capture from sewage through high-rate activated sludge processes
• Utilization of VFA and sludge for feed production i.e. VFA upgrade to microbial protein
• Partial Nitritation Anammox
• Urine nitrification and source separation of wastewater streams and their reuse in urban farming.
• Solid State fermentation
• System assessments: LCAs, mapping of resource flows through cities (i.e. MFA) and related urban environmental assessments as well as economic of this.

Contact Persons

Marc Spiller

Looking for: Partner(s) - Coordinator

• Fertilizer manufacturers
• Bio industrial fermentation and enzyme discovery,
• Horticulturalists
• Fertilizer retailers
• Agronomic expertise - bio-stimulation and bio-fortification, phytopathology, growth tests
• GHG emission measurement
• Expertise in downstream processing and product modification (hard ware) e.g. liquefying, micro-juicing, microbial soap, drying, bacterial harvesting, pasteurization
• Expertise in fertilizer rules and regulations


Austria - Belgium - Bulgaria - Croatia - Republic of Cyprus - Czech Republic - Denmark - Estonia - Finland - France - Germany - Greece - Hungary - Ireland - Italy - Latvia - Lithuania - Luxembourg - Malta - Netherlands - Poland - Portugal - Romania - Slovakia - Slovenia - Spain - Sweden - UK - Iceland - Liechtenstein - Norway

Main Objectives:

The project idea is to valorize liquid waste streams form the agri-food industry into organic fertilizers through the production of microbial biomass that is rich in N, P and K and micro nutrients (Fe, Mn, Cu, Zn, B, Mo). A first one year study, has shown promising results for production processes and agronomic performance in terms of economy and environmental indicators. The target market for the produced organic fertilizers are high value applications in horticulture and agriculture. Future projects shall aim to further improve production of these fertilizers on a variety of feed grade liquid process streams, up-scaling of production and optimization of downstream processing, product development (dry product, liquid product, inclusion of live bacteria) and investigating emissions after application of the fertilizers. Furthermore, a key area to investigate, is the value of the fertilizers beyond their nutritional aspects to include growth stimulation, bio-fortification, plant health, soil health and carbon sequestration. In other words detecting substance(s) and/or micro-organisms whose function, when applied to plants or the rhizosphere, is to stimulate natural processes to enhance/benefit nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, tolerance to abiotic stress and crop quality.


- Optimization of the production process
- Development of different products (e.g. dry, liquid) with competitive properties (storage, quality)
- Detailed insights into the mechanisms of growth stimulation and bio-fortification
- Improved downstream processing
- Industrial scale trials

Previous EU experience:

coordinator: ManureEcoMine - biorefinerey of manures into high value fertilizersapplication for FP7 and H2020