Karlsruhe Institute of Technology Leads Project on Hydrogen Production From Microalgae; €2.1M Funding for ”HydroMicPro“
18 December 2009
In cooperation with eight partners, scientists from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) are working on the development of highly efficient methods for hydrogen production from microalgae.
The “H2 from microalgae: With cell- and reactor design towards economically feasible production” (HydroMicPro) project is being coordinated by Professor Clemens Posten from the KIT Institute of Engineering in the Life Sciences and involves several universities, research institutions and companies. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is supporting the project with €2.1 million (US$3 million) for the next three years with funds from the Grundlagenforschung Energie 2020+ program (Basic Energy Research 2020+).
The HydroMicPro project is focused on the development of an affordable, highly efficient production process with optimized biology and process technology in order to create the prerequisites for the production of large amounts of hydrogen.—Professor Clemens Posten
The objective of the project is to achieve costs of around €25 (US$36) per square meter of soil area for the cultivation of algae. The partners from science and industry will be working on research topics such as photobioreactors, gas separation using membrane methods, biological sensor technologies for cellular oxygen, the biotechnological optimization of algae as well as system integration.
In addition, they will carry out practical field tests and test the application of the hydrogen production method in the aerospace industry, as well as doing environmental and cost analyses.
Besides the KIT (northern and southern campus), the project also involves the University of Bielefeld, the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam, the University of Potsdam, Ehrfeld Mikrotechnik BTS GmbH (EMB) based in Wendelsheim, IGV GmbH in Nuthetal as well as OHB-System AG based in Bremen.
The KIT’s microalgae research group will be responsible for developing an optically structured photobioreactor for the production of hydrogen. Initially, it is planned to enlarge the inner surfaces of the reactor in the hope that, combined with very thin cell layers, this will lead to high efficiency and enhanced cell concentrations. In addition, the algae will be exposed to carbon dioxide through membranes in order to reduce the use of auxiliary energy. This step also involves the KIT’s Engler Bunte Institute.
The reactor will be developed in two stages. The initial stage will focus on achieving high biomass production, which is also required for the production of other algal substances. The second step will focus on optimizing the hydrogen production system.
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