Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Bacteria convert food processing waste to hydrogen

21.05.2003


Penn State environmental engineers estimate, based on tests with wastewater from small Pennsylvania food processors, that typical large food manufacturers could use their starch-rich wastewater to produce hydrogen gas worth close to $5 million or more each year. They present their findings today at the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology.



Steven Van Ginkel, doctoral candidate, and Dr. Sang-Eun Oh, post-doctoral researcher in environmental engineering, conducted the tests.

"In addition to hydrogen, which can be used as a fuel and industrial feedstock, methane, the main component of natural gas, can be generated from the wastewaters," says Van Ginkel. Both hydrogen and methane can be converted into electricity via fuel cells at close to 80% efficiency. "By extracting hydrogen and methane from their wastewaters, these plants can also reap significant savings by not needing to aerate. Aeration makes up 20 to 80 percent of wastewater treatment costs."


Van Ginkel presented the Penn State team’s findings in a poster, Turning America’s Waste into Energy, today (May 20) at 9 a.m . His co-authors are Dr. Oh and Dr. Bruce Logan, director of the Penn State Hydrogen Energy Center and Kappe professor of environmental engineering.

In the tests, Van Ginkel and Oh added hydrogen-producing bacteria to samples of wastewater from the Pennsylvania food processors. The bacteria were obtained from ordinary soil collected at Penn State and then heat-treated to kill all bacteria except those that produce spores. Spores are a dormant, heat resistant, bacterial form adapted to survive in unfavorable environments but able to begin growing again in favorable conditions.

"The spores contain bacteria that can produce hydrogen and once they are introduced into the wastewater, they eat the food in the water and produce hydrogen in a normal fermentation process," says Van Ginkel.

Keeping the wastewater slightly acidic in the hydrogen production step helps to prevent any methane-producing bacteria from growing and consuming hydrogen.

After only a day of fermentation in oxygen-free or anaerobic conditions, the hydrogen-producing bacteria fill the headspace in the fermentation flasks with biogas containing 60 percent hydrogen and 40 percent carbon dioxide.

In the second stage of the process, the acidity in the wastewater is changed and methane-producing bacteria added. The bacteria eat the leftovers, grow and generate methane.

The solid material or sludge left over from fermentation is only one-fourth to one-fifth the volume from typical aerobic treatment processes.

"Using this continuous fermentation process, we can strip nearly all of the energy out of the wastewater in forms that people can use now. While this approach has high capital costs at the outset, our calculations show that it could pay off well both environmentally and financially for some food processors in the long run. In many instances, existing treatment plants can easily be retrofitted to produce hydrogen and methane at a much lower capital cost," says Van Ginkel.


###
The research was supported by the National Science Foundation Biogeochemical Research Initiation Education grant.

This release is a summary of a presentation from the 103rd General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, May 18-22, 2003, in Washington, DC. Additional information on these and other presentations at the 103rd ASM General Meeting can be found online at http://www.asm.org/Media/index.asp?bid=17053 or by contacting Jim Sliwa (jsliwa@asmusa.org) in the ASM Office of Communications. The phone number for the General Meeting Press Room is (202) 249-4064 and will be active from 12:00 noon EDT, May 18 until 12:00 noon EDT, May 22.


Jim Sliwa | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.asmusa.org/

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Loss of habitat causes double damage to species richness
02.04.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Deep decarbonization of industry is possible with innovations
25.03.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>