DOE and SoCalGas Fund Project That Uses Microbes to Convert Carbon Dioxide to Renewable Natural Gas

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced grant funding has been awarded to Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Stanford School of Engineering's Spormann Laboratory to conduct new power-to-gas research. The two entities will receive $800,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). SoCalGas will provide co-funding of $400,000 in addition to $125,000 of seed funding it provided in 2017.  

The initiative will research the use of microbes to convert carbon dioxide directly to methane using renewable electricity, a process known as microbial electromethanogenesis (ME).  If developed as envisioned, ME could become a highly efficient, large-scale storage technology for excess wind and solar energy.  This would, in turn, make both renewable electricity and renewable natural gas less expensive and more plentiful.    

The research will continue past research by Spormann Laboratory on microbes that create methane, as well as advances in 3D-printed carbon aerogel electrode materials made by LLNL, which will be assessed for their viability in reactors.  Biogas will be supplied by Delta Diablo, a Livermore, Calif., wastewater treatment plant. Raw biogas is mostly methane, but also contains about 30 to 40 percent carbon dioxide, which is typically vented to the atmosphere in a biogas production facility.