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Underground Sun Conversion (USC)

Project Leader
Loibner Andreas Paul, BOKU Project Leader
Energieforschung - Leitprojekte - Industrielle Forschung
Type of Research
Applied Research
Project partners
ACIB GmbH, 8010 Graz, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Axiom angewandte Prozeßtechnik Ges.m.b.H., Wienerstraße 114, 2483 Ebreichsdorf, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Energieinstitut an der Johannes Kepler Universität Linz, Altenberger Str. 69, 4040 Linz, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Montanuniversität Leoben, Franz- Josef- Straße 18, 8700 Leoben, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
RAG Austria AG, Schwarzenbergplatz 16, 1015 Wien, Austria.
Function of the Project Partner: Partner
Schritter Johanna, Project Staff (bis 31.12.2020)
Zaknun Cathrine, Project Staff (bis 31.12.2020)
Neuhauser Eva, Project Staff (bis 31.12.2020)
Schönhofer Mathias, Project Staff (bis 31.12.2020)
Andriolo Giulia, Project Staff (bis 31.12.2020)
Doppler Christoph, Project Staff (bis 31.12.2020)
BOKU Research Units
Institute for Environmental Biotechnology
Funded by
Austrian Research Promotion Agency, Sensengasse 1, 1090 Wien, Austria
The increasing production of electrical power, obtained from renewable energy sources, requires solutions for large-scale storage thereof.
Using “Power-to-Gas“ technology, excess electricity is converted into gaseous hydrogen so providing energy in storable from. Within the scope of this project, hydrogen obtained from renewable energy sources and carbon dioxide are injected into a natural gas reservoir (106 Nm3). The aim of the project is to convert these gases into “green methane” making use of the metabolism of naturally occurring methanogenic microorganisms inside the gas reservoir. In this case, porous reservoirs are not only used as natural bio-reactors for the biogenic methanation process, they also serve as gas storage facility. So produced “green methane” is fully compatible with the existing gas grid.
These microbially catalysed subsurface processes are then evaluated regarding their potential for industrial use. To this end, laboratory tests, simulations and a scientific field test in an existing reservoir will be carried out. To simulate microbial growth in an underground storage environment, drilling cores from the reservoir are placed in bioreactors which are then filled with reservoir brine from a depth of 1200 m below surface. The reactors are operated at reservoir pressure (45 bara) and temperature (40°C) and are exposed to defined stoichiometric and off-stoichiometric mixtures of hydrogen and carbon dioxide in methane.
Biogeochemical transformation processes of gaseous, liquid and solid contents of the reactors will be analysed. Based on these results, methods to control the microbial process will be developed and used to optimise methane production. Findings from laboratory experiments will feed into the implementation of the in-situ reservoir experiments.
CO2 produced during the combustion of “green methane” can be captured and reinjected into the reservoir together with hydrogen from renewable sources to again generate methane. This way a large-scale „closed carbon cycle“ process can be established.
Microbiology; Molecular biology; Environmental biotechnology; Industrial biotechnology;
Bioenergy; biotechnology; CCC (closed carbon cycle); CO2 neutral process; energy storage; natural gas reservoir; green methane; hydrogenotrophic methanogenesis; carbon dioxide utilization; mineral deposit science,; Microbiology of reservoirs; microbial processes; petroleum technology; power to gas; environmental research; hydrogen;
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