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Integrated Hydrogen Bioprocesses - WP3



Many industrial processes currently deployed use significant quantities of either fossil fuel derived energy or use fossil fuel derived materials for their manufactured products. This results in the emission of large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases such as methane.  Hydrogen is an energy gas that can be made from renewable energy and is not a greenhouse gas.

We will develop several hydrogen driven technologies for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and the replacement of fossil fuel derived materials. The work will focus on the development and deployment of three biotechnology processes for use, initially in either the steel industry or in the sewage treatment industry.

The treatment of wastewater either in the form of domestic sewage or industrial wastewaters is an essential but energy intensive process, as energy is used to pump air into the sewage treatment tanks to supply oxygen to maintain the effectiveness of the bacteria used to breakdown sewage.  Not only is energy required to drive this process but the microbial process itself can release other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere but also results in the production of large quantities of waste microbial sludge. This sludge needs transportation and treatment before disposal which requires the use of hydrocarbon fuels. In the proposed process, called OxyHyH2O, hydrogen electrolysis powered  by  renewable electricity will split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen produced will be  used to power vehicles and the co-produced oxygen used to treat sewage. The oxygen enhanced bioprocess will treat sewage more effectively in a smaller space and with lower waste sludge production but also with large quantities of hydrogen for use in transport produced.

The other process that will be developed, known as CO-ACE will use the bacterial conversion of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide present in steel manufacturing gases to volatile fatty acids (otherwise known as acetic acid or vinegar). This process will not only trap carbon dioxide from being emitted but produce a green chemical feedstock for use in the chemical industry to produce paints, coatings or plastics. This acetic acid can also be converted by bacteria to higher value products such as single cell protein, lipids and bioplastics. The final process that will be developed is a technology that uses bacteria to convert hydrogen sulphide present in coke oven gas to sulphur particles.  The removal of the hydrogen sulphide will allow the coke oven gas to processed to recover more energy and be more effectively be used for carbon capture and use. The sulphur particles can then be used in the chemical industry or potentially as an agricultural fertiliser.

Work package 3 is led by Dr Richard Dinsdale

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