Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

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Thread: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

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    2.4 Liter SIDI ECOTEC TexZR2's Avatar
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    Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur


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    Hydrogen fuel may soon be nearly as plentiful and cheap due to record setting efficiency

    Hydrogen is the optimal fuel in terms of the cleanliness of its burn reaction. It burns cleanly; producing only water, unlike carbon based fossil fuels which also produce CO2 and other hydrocarbon derivatives. However, hydrogen has suffered from two key problems; one problem is storage; the other problem is production.

    Traditional production of hydrogen via electrolysis (applying an electrical current to water) is not very efficient as you are expending energy to apply the electricity. It also requires the use of fossil fuels or some other alternative energy structure to produce this power for the production infrastructure.

    However, research Bruce Logan and his colleagues at Penn State aim to toss traditional production out the window and revolutionize the way hydrogen is produced. Their approach -- let special bacteria break down plant matter and byproducts producing hydrogen -- with almost no human produced necessary power. The process is highly efficient and could be easily scalable to mass production.

    The researchers had previously had good success with their waste water cell that used these bacteria process organic waste. Now the researchers, funded by a National Science Foundation grant, have made modifications to their cell design which improve the living conditions for the bacteria, and they add a small jolt of electricity at the start of the process to excite them (note this is a trivial energy expense when compared to electrolysis).

    The end result is that their microbes are churning out hydrogen at record efficiency. They call their new cell the Microbial Electrolysis Cell (MEC).

    "We achieved the highest hydrogen yields ever obtained with this approach from different sources of organic matter, such as yields of 91 percent using vinegar (acetic acid) and 68 percent using cellulose," said Logan.

    (read more at the SOURCE)

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    As long as vinegar is not used to make tortillas, this sounds like an exciting (pun intended) development.

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    I concur, exciting stuff. Of course there are other problems with hydrogen, like transporting it, on-board storage, and the cost of fuel cells and high-pressure hydrogen tanks.

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    I saw this earlier this week; great news. Combine this with the breakthroughs in hydrogen storage (hybrid ceramics and nano-materials) that eliminate the need for high pressure and low temps and we could be closing in on hydrogen becoming a mainstream energy source for vehicles far sooner than we would have thought even a few years ago. Thanks for the detailed post.
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    I know there are a lot of hydrogen nay-sayers, but it's alway amazing what happens when a problem presents itself and Americans go about solving it. We just about always come up with a solution.
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Anyone notice the release of CO2 in the process? I wonder how much, and if they plan to capture it? (Not a greenie, just wondering.)

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Sounds pretty good, can't wait to see where this goes.
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Quote Originally Posted by minnfang View Post
    Anyone notice the release of CO2 in the process? I wonder how much, and if they plan to capture it? (Not a greenie, just wondering.)
    Decaying biomass will naturally give off CO2 anyway. If this process were done in a controlled manufacturing facility, CO2 could also be collected and otherwise used rather than going into the atmosphere.
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Excellent news. Since I work in the biotechnology industry, my main concern is seeing this technology commercialized. Found a breakthrough way to make hydrogen? Great, let's start a company, get production running, and start making this stuff. I'd like a hydrogen fuel cell car in my driveway sooner rather than later.

    BTW, has anyone else seen the new Honda commercial featuring the FCV Clarity? Looks like Chevrolet isn't the only one advertising their next generation technologies. Yet Honda's commericial was real vague and misleading - if I didn't know any better, I'd have thought that you could go out and buy the Clarity today.
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Why wait till transportation and storage issues are solved? lets just build H2 generation facilities next to existing fossil fuel gereating plants and convert them over to hydrogen while we try to figure out how to store it safely (and cheaply)for use as a transportation fuel.
    Ed

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    It sounds like all you need (other than the equipment) is vinegar and the bacteria. These could go anywhere.

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Solution to CO2 issue, just feed it to Algae ponds for biodiesel. Simplicity itself.

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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    I hope this speeds up the hydrogen conversion.

    Just think how pist our enemies will be when this takes off.

    I fear ethanol is just a con job to get huge fed subsidies. It's not nearly a satisfactory or efficient solution.

    As for the believers in the CO2 global warmbaloney panic disorder, H2O (hydrogen fuel exhaust byproduct) far, far exceeds anything CO2 could ever hope to achieve as a greenhouse gas in its wildest dreams.
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Quote Originally Posted by Z16monte View Post
    Why wait till transportation and storage issues are solved? lets just build H2 generation facilities next to existing fossil fuel gereating plants and convert them over to hydrogen while we try to figure out how to store it safely (and cheaply)for use as a transportation fuel.
    Ed

    Great idea!!!!!!
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    Re: Microbial Hydrogen Production Threatens Extinction for the Ethanol Dinosaur

    Quote Originally Posted by ronald mcretard View Post
    I concur, exciting stuff. Of course there are other problems with hydrogen, like transporting it, on-board storage, and the cost of fuel cells and high-pressure hydrogen tanks.
    I'm very excited about this. As for transportation? It looks like this system could be easily incorporated into existing waste water treatment facilities. Now I live 200Kms from the nearest oil refinery. And I only live 2Kms from the nearest waste water treatment plant. I'm pretty sure hydrogen could be economically transported on this scale even by truck.
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