Electrochaea has commissioned a power-to-gas demonstration facility, which is based on biological methanation and uses a 10,000l bioreactor, in Foulum, Denmark.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of Electrochaea, Electrochaea.dk will operate the facility, which is sponsored by the Danish Energy Agency (EUDP), Erdgas Zürich, ewz (the City of Zurich's utility), E.ON, NEAS Energy and Aarhus University.
The project is being executed with assistance from Invest in Denmark, while engineering services are provided by NIRAS.
The Foulum project will demonstrate Electrochaea's biocatalytic methanation technology at pre-commercial scale.
The core of the technology is a single-celled organism, a methanogenic archaea, which was adapted for industrial use by professor Laurens Mets at the University of Chicago.
To produce pipeline-grade methane, the microbe requires only hydrogen and carbon dioxide.
The project will use raw biogas from an on-site anaerobic digester as the source of CO2, while hydrogen is supplied from high-pressure gas cylinders.
The stirred tank reactor used in the project is a 10,000l vessel owned by Aarhus University.
The reactor was successfully inoculated with Electrochaea's proprietary microbes on 30 July 2013 and reached sufficient cell density for catalytic carbon dioxide conversion on 6 August 2013.
The reactor has been operated for more than 300 hours and currently operates with more than 4,000l of a high-density microbial culture.
For the next two months, the company will begin testing the reactor and biocatalyst for system efficiency, productivity, robustness and responsiveness to changes in supply of carbon dioxide and hydrogen.
The Foulum project is expected to be completed by November 2013, while the test results will be used to develop the detailed design for a MW-scale project anticipated to start by the first quarter of 2014.
Electrochaea CEO Mich Hein said, "Foulum marks a critical milestone in our technology scale-up and de-risking pathway from the laboratory to the field.
"The data produced from the project will be vital for the development of our second-generation reactor and for establishing an operational baseline in a truly industrial environment."
Electrochaea engineering vice-president Jeff Fornero said, "We are very pleased with our progress since commissioning. Starting up a reactor within two days and upon the first inoculation in this non-sterile, non-anaerobic environment is a testament to the simplicity and robustness of our technology."