Development of an Integrated Technology for Biological Conversion of Biogas from Landfills and Anaerobic Digestion to Liquid Fuels

EPA Grant Number: FP917788
Title: Development of an Integrated Technology for Biological Conversion of Biogas from Landfills and Anaerobic Digestion to Liquid Fuels
Investigators: Sheets, Johnathon Patrick
Institution: The Ohio State University
EPA Project Officer: Lee, Sonja
Project Period: September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2018
Project Amount: $132,000
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2015) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships

Objective:

Over 50% of the municipal solid waste produced in the United States each year is made up of energy-rich organic materials. Most of these wastes are landfilled or sent to anaerobic digestion (AD) systems, where they are converted into biomethane. Although biomethane can be reused for energy, it is commonly flared because it is too costly to store and transport. The objective of this research is to develop a biological process that employs methane-oxidizing bacteria (methanotrophs) to convert biomethane to methanol, a valuable liquid chemical that can be upgraded to gasoline.

Approach:

The biological biomethane-to-methanol process will be facilitated by aerobic methanotrophs isolated from anaerobically digested waste. First, methanotroph growth medium will be optimized for maximum methanol production. Second, a biotrickling filter that improves mass transfer of gaseous substrates (methane and oxygen) to the methanotrophs will be designed. Optimal conditions for biotrickling filter operation will be determined using mathematical modeling. After optimal conditions are obtained, the biomethane-to-methanol process will be analyzed for its economic feasibility and environmental sustainability using techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment.

Expected Results:

Methanotrophs that can convert raw biomethane to methanol will be isolated from anaerobically digested organic waste and optimal conditions to maximize methanol production in shake flasks will be obtained. The biotrickling filter will improve gas-liquid mass transfer, enhancing methanol production. The biological biomethane-to-methanol process is expected to use less energy and produce fewer air and water pollutants compared to conventional biomethane uses, such as gas flaring.

Supplemental Keywords:

Biomethane, Organic Waste, Methanotrophs, Greenhouse Gases, Methanol

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2016
  • 2017
  • Final