Bioprocessing to convert organic wastes into energy

Program or topic

Undefined mixed culture bioprocessing to convert organic wastes into methane, hydrogen, electricity, or precursors for liquid fuels.

Department(s) or unit(s)

Biological and Environmental Engineering

Contact information

Dr. Lars Angenent
Associate Professor

Program goals

Use carbon from the biological cycle rather than from fossil fuels to generate energy. We therefore do not add carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

Brief Description

In the area of bioenergy our goal is to optimize anaerobic fermentation processes to select for undefined mixed cultures that can convert wastes into bioenergy, such as biogas (methane), bioelectricity, and alcohols; and biochemicals, such as butyrate, hydrogen, and hydrogen peroxide. We focus on improving the performance and stability of anaerobic digesters, anaerobic fermenters, and bioelectrochemical systems (including microbial fuel cells [MFCs] and microbial electrolysis cells [MECs]) for waste treatment by optimizing the reactor configuration and/or community selection process. The latter is possible after gaining knowledge on the microbial population dynamics obtained with molecular microbiology techniques based on highly-parallel sequencing (16S rRNA gene surveys and comparative metagenomics) and hybridization methods (DNA arrays).

In addition, we are involved in converting lignocellulosic wastes into butanol through two different technologies:

  1. A 3-step process, which couples chemical/physical pretreatment with an undefined mixed culture bioreactor and a pure culture solventogenesis bioreactor.
  2. A 2-step process, which couples slow pyrolysis with syngas fermentation

For more information

Category: Bio-energy/-fuel/-gas, Energy

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