Green hydrogen is typically produced by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen (electrolysis of water). The electricity required is generated from renewable sources such as  solar power and wind. There is an ever increasing focus on using hydrogen as   (1) fuel for cars, (2) a means for energy storage, (3) feedstock for the chemical industry,  and here (4) as an energy source for bacteria producing feed and food.

The partners in the Collab H2Bio cooperate closely in developing technology and markets for biosynthetic compounds starting from green hydrogen. Biosynthesis of protein for feed applications is the subject of a joint project involving several partners; resource recovery from ‘waste’ materials is the key in this project. Specifically in the food applications field virgin raw materials are used.

The quality of the final product is between animal and plant proteins. The main  advantages of microbial protein production compared to the conventional proteins include (1) substantially lower footprint and water consumption, (2) less emissions (pesticides, nutrients, greenhouse gases) and – last but not least – (3) an animal friendly system. And autotrophic, hydrogen using bacteria can do much more, e.g. CO2 captation and nutrient removal form water.

Unit Plant protein Animal protein Solar beef Source
Footprint m2/kg 5 20 <1 1
Water consumption m3/kg 15 30 <1 1
N uptake efficiency % 26 7 80 2
Greenhouse gas emission kg CO2e/kg 100 300 <10 1

(1) World Resource Institute, 2016 (animal protein: corn and poultry); (2) Pikaar et al, Environm. Sci. Techn., 2017

KWR and Avecom are partners in the Allied Waters Collab ‘H2Bio’; We are happy to support you in the quest to use hydrogen as a vector for developing new opportunities in biotechnology. Allied Waters: driving the circular economy.

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