NanoLogix, a nanobiotechnology company engaged in the development and commercialization of technologies for the creation of hydrogen bioreactors, has signed an agreement for the construction and operation of a prototype hydrogen bioreactor at the City of Erie wastewater treatment plant.
This project will utilize the proprietary intellectual property of NanoLogix in conjunction with the participation of faculty members and students from Gannon University.
We are very enthusiastic about exploring the enormous potential for converting wastewater into hydrogen. The Erie Wastewater Treatment Plant treats between 30-40 million gallons per day from the sewer system. There are thousands of plants throughout America. Success in this arena could greatly alleviate American dependence upon foreign energy sources.—Mitchell Felder, MD, CEO of NanoLogix
Originally founded in 1989 for the development of diagnostic kits for infectious diseases, NanoLogix (originally known as InfecTech) is diversifying into technologies for the biological production of alternative sources of fuel and the remediation of toxic materials.
In particular, it is ramping up its efforts for biohydrogen production. The company recently filed six more patent applications for greatly improving the efficiency of hydrogen bioreactors.
There are two basic approaches to the microbial production of hydrogen: fermentative and photosynthetic. Clostridia species, methanogens and archeabacteria are known fermentative producers of hydrogen, while purple sulfur bacteria and green algae are examples of photosynthetic producers.
For a bioconversion process to be commercially viable, the bacterial culture needs to remain healthy and thriving, while the stability and yield of the process must be commercially useful. NanoLogix is applying its patented bacterial culturing methods with Clostridia for hydrogen production. (Earlier post.)
In a natural fermentative process, some of the hydrogen produced by Clostridia would be used (inter-species transfer) by methane-producing bacteria (methanogens) in the inoculum. Reducing or eliminating the methanogens is one approach to increasing the ultimate yield of hydrogen. Researchers have found that heat treatment is one of the effective techniques for accomplishing that.
A Clostridium bacterium will form a bacterial spore in the presence of heat, and survive. The methanogens are non-spore-forming; the heat kills them. The application of the heat process thus effectively selects for the Clostridia population and so for production of hydrogen while eliminating the competing process of methanogenesis.
NanoLogix’ process is based on combining the bacterial production of hydrogen with excess industrial heat.
Last year, NanoLogix announced that a prototype bioreactor produced biogas consisting of 50% hydrogen by volume, without any trace of methane. In May 2006, the company announced that it has begun generating hydrogen at its first commercial scaled-up hydrogen bioreactor facility at a Welch Food’s plant in Pennsylvania.