Anaerobic Production of biohydrogen from food and Agricultural waste
Despite its clean and green nature when utilized in fuel cells and other devices, most hydrogen is currently produced primarily from non-renewable sources, such as natural gas, oil, and coal. Anaerobic digestion provides a potentially improved alternative to manufacturing hydrogen from petroleum and natural gas. Anaerobic digesters can produce hydrogen from inexpensive and renewable energy sources such as organic wastes (e.g. food processing waste and animal waste). Recent studies have shown that certain strains of bacteria (e.g. bacteria from the genus Clostridium) are effective at producing hydrogen as a by-product during anaerobic digestion With help from two USDA grants, one of them an SBIR grant in 2005, a new type of high rate anaerobic digester was develop and patented by Hansen Energy and Environmental (HEE) and called the Andigen Induced Blanket Reactor (IBR). Andigen was licensed to sells the patented IBR anaerobic digester. Then again in 2006 with the help from a USDA Rural Development Grant, HEE operated a 1996 Chevy truck on biogas (methane) produced by the IBR digester. A review of literature revealed that if a small percentage (10% to 20%) of hydrogen is added to methane (biogas) it crates a much better fuel and reduces emissions by as much as 50%. Therefore, research into the production of hydrogen was started that resulted in the SBIR phase I award. The technology of the Andigen IBR high rate digester has the ability to control the parameters needed to produce hydrogen on a continuous flow through basis using agricultural waste products, including animal manure and food waste Phase I replicated earlier lab trials for anaerobic production of hydrogen and was able to determine the best method to inhibit the growth of methane producing bacteria in order to create an environment where the hydrogen producing bacteria would thrive. The method used needed to have the potential to work in the Andigen IBR digester. The lab trials have resulted in a patented process that has produced 40% hydrogen. With phase II funding a continuous flow through process for the production of hydrogen will be developed using agricultural waste products that have little or no value. This Phase II project will also show that there is a net energy gain from the same amount of waste by producing both biohydrogen and biomethane. By using biogas as a fuel for his trucks and tractors a farmer can realize a much higher return on his digester investment than the generation of electricity. The production of hydrogen has many commercial applications in a "hydrogen society" but the commercial application waiting for the development of this technology is for use as a fuel mixture for the biomethane and biohydrogen produced by the Andigen IBR digesters. This Phase II grant will also include a collaborative effort with Ceramatec of Salt Lake City, Utah to produce a liquid fuel (synthetic Diesel) from hydrogen. An economic analysis will be made to examine the economic feasibility in producing a liquid fuel from the biohydrogen. Ceramatec has made great strides in cutting the cost of producing synthetic diesel from biogas.
Small Business Information at Submission:
HANSEN ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL, LLC
15600 N 4005 W Garland, UT 84312
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