There is growing global interest in the use of hydrogen as an alternative energy carrier, and roadmaps for hydrogen economy have been drawn up in several countries.
One of the advantages of hydrogen is that it can be sustainably produced by the hydrolysis of water using wind and hydro power, and by biological processes employing solar energy and biomass.
Biological processes are expected to make a significant contribution to hydrogen production in the form of biohydrogen. Algae and cyanobacteria produce hydrogen through photosynthesis, while fermentative bacteria ferment organic compounds (biomass) to give hydrogen. Fermentation can take place in the presence of light (photofermentation) or its absence (dark fermentation). Energy crops, waste from the food and forest industries, and organic household waste are highly suitable raw materials for fermentation.
Research into the production of biohydrogen was initiated at LTH in 2006, in the form of collaboration between the divisions of Applied Microbiology and Chemical Engineering. Attention is being especially directed towards process integration and extremely thermophilic non-photosynthesizing bacteria.
Ed van Niel