BIOH2

BIOH2 proposes a biological green H2 generation system, using organic matter from wastewater as a substrate.
Description

BIOH2 proposes a biological green hydrogen generation system using organic matter from wastewater as a substrate. This system is conceived as an economical and modular solution for valorizing industrial wastewater, especially when it contains a high concentration of sugars in its effluents, as is often the case in the food industry.

To achieve this, three lines of work are proposed:

  • selection of the biobed
  • Optimization of the hydrogen production process
  • Hydrogen storage and control.

BIOH2 was divided into two phases, in which the production of biological H2 at different working scales was analysed and the possible influence of an enzymatic pathway on the process was also assessed.

Objectives

The project aims at the initial development of a technology to generate hydrogen from wastewater in the agri-food industry. The goal of this technology is to make this energy vector used for the self-sufficiency of the industry, thereby reducing its costs and carbon footprint.
This process, in addition to improving biodegradability, avoids the need to compress and transport hydrogen at high pressures, which in turn significantly reduces the carbon footprint and other emissions.
The idea is for this system to operate autonomously with minimal maintenance, making Industry 4.0 digital technology essential for its proper execution.
In this regard, the objectives addressed in Phase 1 were:

  • Select bacterial strains for the biological production of green H2.
  • Study the dark fermentation process.
  •  Monitor gas production and distribution.
  • Analyse the effect on the subsequent treatment of industrial effluents.
  •  Digitize the system and develop the control system.

Considering the results achieved in Phase 1 and the experience gained during its execution, the specific objectives set for Phase 2 are:

  • Explore and analyze the enzymatic pathway in hydrogen production in a small-scale bioreactor.
  • To carry out a new piloting of the process in order to acquire new knowledge on the technological basis of the generation of biological hydrogen by fermentative means, under conditions of larger laboratory scale.
  • Optimize working parameters to maximize hydrogen production in quantity and richness.
  •  Design an energetically autonomous system using renewable energies and digital enablement.
  • Real-time monitoring and remote control system for the plant, capable of including a system for self-managing energy consumption based on energy autonomy design.
  • Increase gas system compression levels.
Results

The project has successfully created a preliminary, economical, and modular system capable of generating biological green hydrogen from industrial wastewater.

Acquiring technical knowledge of this technology, studied from its inception in the laboratory to larger-scale tests, has allowed the system to be optimized to achieve a hydrogen purity of over 70%. Similarly, bacterial specialization and selection have been achieved, leading to higher hydrogen production yields.

From an economic point of view, the operating and investment costs of the process have been reduced. The hydraulic retention time (HRT) is significantly lower than that required in anaerobic digestion processes, which allows the size of the biodigesters to be smaller and the associated costs to be significantly reduced.

The great advantage of this system, apart from the valorisation of a waste (wastewater) to a valuable resource (green hydrogen), is the output water after treatment. It has been possible to optimise the water after treatment to obtain a more easily biodegradable water, perfect for generating methane at a later stage or producing a greater amount of hydrogen through other biological processes, thus increasing energy production.

In addition to refining the technology process, efforts have also been made to digitalize the manufactured equipment. Monitoring has been achieved, and a remote control system has been incorporated through an online application to oversee the self-management of consumption.

Implementation period

Phase I: December 2021 – August 2022 (AEI-010500-2021b-174) 

Phase II: September 2022 – April 2023 (AEI-010500-2022b-165) 

Partners

This project is possible thanks to the collaboration between DAB biotechnology, Rivi Technical Group, Ingeobras (Inngen.io) and the Aragonese water cluster, Zinane. 

DAB RIVI
Further information

This disruptive innovation project aims to drive the search for a new source of energy production from wastewater. 

Grants and subsidies

This project has received aid in the form of a grant regulated by the support programme for Innovative Business Groups (AEIs) of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism. Recovery, Transformation and Resilience Plan – Funded by the European Union – NextGenerationEU.

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