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Utilisation of CO2 and H2 for the fermentative production of liquid and gaseous biofuels

Project Leader
Bochmann G√ľnther, Project Leader
Duration:
01.06.2014-31.08.2017
Programme:
Energieforschung - Kooperative Projekte der Grundlagenforschung
Type of Research
Basic Research
Project partners
ACIB GmbH, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Bioenergy 2020+ GmbH , Inffeldgasse 21b, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Staff
Rachbauer Lydia, Project Staff
Stein Ullrich, Project Staff (bis 31.07.2019)
BOKU Research Units
Institute for Environmental Biotechnology
Funded by
Austrian Research Promotion Agency, Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
Abstract
The European Union's 20-20-20 targets envision a higher use of renewable energies in Europe. Wind and solar energy are seen as having the most potential to achieve these goals. However, energy production from wind and solar is never constant and there can be shortterm electricity peaks that do not correlate with electricity use. This reduces the economic feasibility of these technologies and has a negative impact on the stability of the electricity grid. This excess electricity can be used for electrolysis to make hydrogen which can then be stored. There are many ways of using hydrogen, but although they are technically feasible, they are economically and energetically unrealistic.
The aim of the Hydrofinery project is the microbiological use of H2 and CO2 to produce gaseous and liquid energy carriers. Beyond that, this project aims to provide a hydrogen storage technology (or CO2 storage technology) using the intermediate acetate. After a period of literature research (TLR1), a detailed series of experiments will be set up (TLR2). The subsequent step includes extensive microorganism screening (TLR3) in which Clostridia and methanogenic Archaea will be selected and their metabolic pathways selected for, depending on biomass kinetics, productivity, substrate inhibition, etc. The process cascade consists of two steps. In the first step, homoacetogenic microorganisms will be used to convert H2 and CO2 to acetate, the storable intermediate.
In the second step, two possible ways of using acetate will be investigated.The first way is to produce a gaseous fuel, biomethane, from acetate using acetoclastic methanogenic archaea. The second way of using acetate is to produce a liquid fuel, primarily biobutanol or bioethanol, via the ABE fermentation using different strains of Clostridium. Alternatively, the direct conversion of H2 and CO2 to biomethane will be investigated using hydrogenotrophic microorganisms. The project contains numerous innovative aspects. The biggest challenges are considered the immobilization of the various microorganisms to overcome the problem of inhibition due to product formation and the evaluation of metabolic pathways with a major focus on microbial productivity.
Keywords
Microbiology; Renewable energy; Environmental engineering; Environmental biotechnology; Industrial biotechnology; Energy research; Sustainable technologies;
CO2; ethanol; Fermentation; methane; Hydrogen;
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