Technology – header

Electrochaea employs a patented biocatalyst to convert low-cost and stranded
electricity and carbon dioxide into pipeline-grade renewable gas.

How the technology works

Electrochaea employs a patented biocatalyst to convert low-cost and stranded electricity and carbon dioxide into pipeline-grade renewable gas. This gas can be directly injected into the existing natural gas grid. The core of our power-to-gas technology is this proprietary biocatalyst that can be deployed in a simple and cost-effective energy conversion system.

 

Biocatalyst (BioCat)

Electrochaea’s proprietary biocatalyst is a selectively evolved – not genetically modified – strain of methanogenic archaea, a single-celled microorganism that has populated Earth for billions of years. These organisms can be found in a broad range of habitats, including some of the most extreme environments on the planet such as volcanic hot springs, salt likes, in addition to that, oceans and soils among others. 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 unique properties 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, that enable scale up to commercial application. In addition, the organisms are self-replicating and self maintaining and hence do not require periodic replacement.

 

System Design

Electrochaea is currently pursuing energy storage via 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 containing the archaea along with carbon dioxide from a biogenic or industrial source.

The organisms are indifferent as to the source of CO2 and can use commonly available sources such as raw biogas from anaerobic digesters, fermentation off-gas from breweries and ethanol plants, and flue gas from combustion processes.

 

Because of the high selectivity of the archaeas, minimal post-reaction gas treatment is needed before the product gas is injected into the gas grid. Oxygen and heat are by-products from the process and can be sold in a broad range of different markets, either on-site or off-site.

Turbine Green Energy Electricity Technology Concept

Development activities

 

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 using a 10,000-liter reactor vessel and raw biogas as a carbon dioxide source. The system ran continuously for more than 3,200 hours between August and December 2013 at Aarhus University’s Biogas Research Center in Foulum, Denmark. Supported by Aarhus University, E.ON, Energie 360° (formerly Erdgas Zürich), ewz (the City of Zurich’s utility), and NEAS Energy, the project demonstrated the efficiency, productivity, robustness, and responsiveness of Electrochaea’s power-to-gas technology.

Development activities

 

BioCat Project (commercial scale), Denmark

In February 2014, Electrochaea started its first commercial scale demonstration project: BioCat.

The BioCat Project’s objective is to design, engineer, construct, and test a 1-MW power-to-gas plant based on Electrochaea’s biological methanation technology to address Europe’s needs of energy storage and decarbonizing the gas sector. BioCat is located at the BIOFOS Avedøre wastewater treatment plant near Copenhagen, Denmark.

 

The plant will operate for 3,000 hours during BioCat. It will draw renewable electricity during times of low demand and convert that electricity to renewable gas for direct injection into – and storage in – a nearby gas distribution grid. Biogas is being produced on-site at Avedøre via anaerobic digestion and will deliver the carbon dioxide required for methanation. Heat and oxygen, which are generated as by-products in the power-to-gas process, will be captured and utilized in the BIOFOS on-site operations. The facility will also provide frequency regulation services to the Danish power grid and inject renewable natural gas into Copenhagen’s energy gas grid.

BioCat logo

Electrochaea is the BioCat project leader. Our partners in this project are Hydrogenics, Audi, NEAS Energy, HMN Gashandel, BIOFOS, and Insero. The project is generously supported with a 6-million Euro grant from ForskEL, a technology development program of the Danish power and gas transmission grid operator Energinet.dk. The BioCat project will lift Electrochaea’s technology to market maturity.

Within the scope of these projects for the storage of gas, liquid fuels and electricity Electrochaea provides the proprietary system design and engineering, and consults in the construction or design of structures for the storage of gas, liquid fuels and electricity.

 

Our services include project management and system commissioning.