Electrochaea employs a patent-pending biological process to convert low-cost and stranded electricity into pipeline-grade renewable gas for direct injection into the existing natural gas grid. The core of our power-to-gas technology is a proprietary biocatalyst that can be deployed in a simple and cost-effective energy conversion system.
Biocatalyst Electrochaea's biocatalyst is a selectively evolved - not genetically modified - strain of methanogenic archaea, a single-celled microorganism that has populated Earth for billions of years and can be found in a broad range of habitats, including some of the most extreme environments on the planet. The strain of archaea used in our power-to-gas process has been adapted for industrial application by Prof. Laurens Mets at the University of Chicago. Our archaea exhibit several properties that are unique and have not been observed in wildtype specimens, including high mass conversion efficiency, tolerance to many contaminants typically found in industrial CO2-sources (oxygen, hydrogen sulfide, particulates), high selectivity in methane production, and very fast reaction kinetics. In addition, the microbes are self-replicating and hence do not require periodic replacement.
System Design Electrochaea is currently pursuing a two-step power-to-gas system that uses an off-the-shelf electrolyzer to produce hydrogen. This hydrogen is then fed to a separate bioreactor along with carbon dioxide from an industrial source. The microbes are indifferent as to the source of CO2 and can use raw biogas from anaerobic digesters, fermentation off-gas from breweries and ethanol plants, and flue gas from oxycombustion processes. Because of the high selectivity of the microbes, minimal post-reaction gas treatment is needed before the product gas is injected into the gas grid. Oxygen and heat are produced as by-products from the process and can be sold in a broad range of different markets, either on-site or off-site.
Industrial Biogas Test (1 kW), United States In October 2011, Electrochaea successfully tested many of the biocatalyst's properties using carbon dioxide from a biogas plant digesting brewery waste. The process ran continuously using unfiltered, unseparated biogas containing approximately 30% carbon dioxide and 68% methane and up to 6,000 ppm of hydrogen sulfide. The system performed stably, reliably, and no contamination problems were identified.
Foulum Project (pre-commercial), Denmark With a grant of $1.2 million from the Danish Energy Agency (EUDP), we tested our power-to-gas technology in a pre-commercial setting using a 10,000-liter reactor vessel and raw biogas as a carbon dioxide source. The project ran from January to November 2013 at Aarhus University's Biogas Research Center in Foulum, Denmark. Supported by E.ON, Erdgas Zürich, ewz, and NEAS Energy, the project demonstrated the efficiency, productivity, robustness, and responsiveness of Electrochaea's power-to-gas technology.
P2G-BioCat Project (commercial-scale), Denmark In December 2013, Electrochaea has been awarded substantial grant funding to design, engineer, build, and operate a full-fletched, 1-MW power-to-gas facility in Denmark. Details of the project, which is named "Power-to-Gas via Biological Catalysis (P2G-BioCat)" will be announced shortly.