New methane production method could be a boon for industry
Researchers from Stanford University and Pennsylvania State University have been working on a new system that produces industrial gases through the use of microorganisms. Scientists from the universities believe that microbes can be used to create methane gas and other chemical compounds using electricity generated from renewable sources. Methane can, in turn, be used to power fuel cells and other energy systems that produce clean electricity. Researchers believe that their method of fuel production could eliminate the need for fossil-fuels in the world of industry.
Biofuel efficiently produced by microbes that consume electricity
Scientists from both universities have cultivated several colonies of microorganisms called methanogens. These microbes are capable of turning electrical power into methane gas. Scientists aim to create massive factories of these microbes in order to generate high volumes of methane gas. The process is entirely carbon neutral if the electricity used to produce the methane gas is from a renewable source, such as solar, wind, or nuclear power.
Methanogens could be an ideal source of biofuel
Researchers believe that methane-producing microbes could help alleviate the problems facing large alternative energy systems. Some of these systems, particularly in the realm of solar energy, are capable of producing a large surplus of energy. Due to lackluster or expensive storage technologies, much of this surplus energy could go to waste. Using this surplus energy to power the microbes could be an effective means of producing and storing new forms of energy, which could be unlocked through further research of the organisms’’ metabolic process.
Biofuel to be used to power large vehicles
Currently, researchers plan to use the methane gas generated through the process to fuel planes and other such vehicles. Researchers claim that microbial methane is more environmentally friendly than other forms of biofuel, such as ethanol. More research must be done before the use of the methanogens can be implemented on a large scale, but researchers are hopeful concerning the prospects of their methods.
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