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Overproduction of Hydrogen From an Anaerobic Bacterium
EDGEWOOD CHEMICAL BIOLOGICAL CENTER ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND MD
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A derivative of the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium phytofermentans was isolated and shown to produce two moles of hydrogen per mole of glucose and similar yields from cellulosic feedstocks. The strain cpnit-1 was selected for its rapid growth in a chemostat under nitrogen fixation conditions. The rare ability of cpnit-1 to stably, anaerobically produce hydrogen while rapidly fixing its own nitrogen provides a strong selection to maintain the culture and suggests a uniquely simple hydrogen reactor design based on renewable feedstocks. Hydrogen is an ideal fuel since its only oxidation product is water. When used in a fuel cell to generate electricity, it is three times as efficient as an internal combustion engine. However, its production, primarily from steam reformation of natural gas at 700- 1100o C CH4 H2O CO 3H2, requires much more energy than is created. Hydrogen can also be produced by electrolysis, splitting water into its component gases, hydrogen and oxygen. However, the electrical demand for that process also far exceeds the energy value of the resulting hydrogen. Biological hydrogen production, typically using photosynthetic algae or anaerobic bacteria, is an ambient temperature, catalytic process with the potential for a significant net energy gain. In order to be scalable, the process must be stable, and in order to be economical and sustainable it must provide a high yield of hydrogen from renewable feedstocks.i
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE