Microbial Hydrogen Generation  

Posted by Big Gav

One of the alternative energy sources that I like (and there are a few of them) is hydrogen - albeit not the stupider forms of hydrogen that are generated from natural gas (why bother) or nuclear power (just shifting the problem upstream).

WorldChanging has a new post on microbial fuel cells, inside which bacteria process waste water and spit out hydrogen.

Although some fear that the hydrogen economy, should it come, will be built atop of nuclear power plants, and others hope that solar and wind will provide enough juice to crack hydrogen from water, it may well turn out that the ideal source of hydrogen for fuel cells is the lowly bacteria.

We've mentioned microbial fuel cells before, tiny powerhouses that generate electricity while cleaning wastewater. But researchers at Penn State have taken the microbial fuel cell off in a new direction, pulling hydrogen out of wastewater at a rate four times greater than the standard fermentation process, and ten times greater than straight electolysis.

One caveat is that this process does require some electrical power input, so I'd like to see the end-to-end EROEI calculation - but it does at least sound promising.

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On the bus coming home from work, I just finished the part in The Long Emergency where Kunstler trashes hydrogen power. So, this is a very interesting post. Especially when compared to the absolute disaster that is most hydrogen sources. It might be very good for micro-power, but it really is all about the ERoEI.

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