SoCalGas & Electrochaea Announce Commissioning of New Biomethanation Reactor System Pilot Project

 Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and Electrochaea today announced the commissioning of the nation's first scalable biomethanation reactor system at the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Energy System Integration Facility in Golden, Colo.  The technology uses renewable electricity to convert hydrogen into pipeline quality methane for use in homes, businesses and in transportation.  Over the next 24 months, the project will assess the commercial viability of this power-to-gas approach to energy storage and decarbonization and provide insights into potential mega-watt scale system designs.  The announcement was made in conjunction with NREL's third annual Partner Forum.

Biomethane, or renewable natural gas, is created through this bioreactor system in a two-step process.  First, renewable electricity, generated by the sun, passes through an electrolyzer where water molecules are split into hydrogen and oxygen, storing the renewable electricity as hydrogen gas.  The newly-created "green" hydrogen is combined with carbon dioxide and piped into the reactor where archaea microorganisms produce renewable natural gas by consuming hydrogen and carbon dioxide and emitting methane.  The system is capable of recycling carbon dioxide from a myriad of sources, such as ethanol plants and anaerobic digesters, preventing greenhouse gas emissions and displacing the consumption of fossil methane. The catalyst was originally developed at the University of Chicago and the basic methanation system was designed by Electrochaea and demonstrated in Europe.

By PR Newswire

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