Scalable Bio-Hydrogen Production; a Novel Green Energy Technology

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a promising clean energy carrier and a valuable commodity with over 60 million tons produced globally and used in many industrial technologies. The current industrial method of hydrogen production is consuming methane (a high-value fuel) and polluting the environment. Bio-hydrogen production by photosynthetic microbes represents an alternate green energy strategy that makes use of sunlight and abundant resources. Moreover, biological replication allows rapid and economical solar bio-factories producing H2.

A growing attention is drawn into renewable energies and the shift from current fossil fuel-based hydrogen production.  Currently biological hydrogen production via green algae is not ready for scale up.  As this process requires anoxia, it is achieved only by costly, labor-intensive nutrient deficiencies and/or chemical treatments. Therefore, the current laboratory (only) methods for generation of H2 via alga are usually two-step processes in which algae grown under ambient conditions are shifted to nutrient deficiency to produce H2. Not only that this scheme is costly, the H2 production yields are too low for scale up.

A novel Chlamydomonas reinhardtii green algal strain carrying two mutated genes, produces high scale H2 (up to 3.2 mg. H2 per hour per liter culture) under ambient growth conditions, requires no nutrient deficiency, centrifugation or other steps that disrupt the process continuity. The mutated algal strain characteristics address the current production challenges and allows fast, efficient and long term (about 7-10 days without any media changes) H2 production. Furthermore, the new strain is robust and performs well in relatively high temperatures (up to 36 degrees) and high light exposure (300µE). In 1 square meter, using bioreactors at height of 3 meters with LED lamps powered by solar panels you can have 3000 liters culture, which translates to up to 84 Kg H2 per square meter per year.


Currently, there is no available bio-hydrogen production technology which is scalable and economical as a renewable energy source. Hydrogen is produced via steam reforming of natural gas, a process which releases extensive amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse pollutants. The only green option of producing hydrogen is to perform electrolysis, using water and green electricity such as from PV panels, and wind turbines.

Further genetic engineering is expected to take it 5 fold higher.
Seeking research funding to perform the engineering and to design and build a scale up pilot.

The expected final product of the invention is directed to the chemical industry, the energy, transportation and any sector which consume hydrogen.


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