Table of Contents Author Guidelines Submit a Manuscript
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 157529, 11 pages
Research Article

A Single-Culture Bioprocess of Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus to Upgrade Digester Biogas by CO2-to-CH4 Conversion with H2

1Electrochaea, LLC, 1005 N. Warson Road, Suite 201, St. Louis, MO 63132, USA
2The University of Chicago, 920 E. 58th Street, Chicago, IL 60637, USA
3Cornell University, 214 Riley-Robb Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Received 31 May 2013; Revised 20 August 2013; Accepted 21 August 2013

Academic Editor: Alfons J. M. Stams

Copyright © 2013 Matthew R. Martin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


We optimized and tested a postbioprocessing step with a single-culture archaeon to upgrade biogas (i.e., increase methane content) from anaerobic digesters via conversion of CO2 into CH4 by feeding H2 gas. We optimized a culture of the thermophilic methanogen Methanothermobacter thermautotrophicus using: (1) a synthetic H2/CO2 mixture; (2) the same mixture with pressurization; (3) a synthetic biogas with different CH4 contents and H2; and (4) an industrial, untreated biogas and H2. A laboratory culture with a robust growth (dry weight of 6.4–7.4 g/L; OD600 of 13.6–15.4), a volumetric methane production rate of 21 L/L culture-day, and a H2 conversion efficiency of 89% was moved to an industrial anaerobic digester facility, where it was restarted and fed untreated biogas with a methane content of ~70% at a rate such that CO2 was in excess of the stoichiometric requirements in relation to H2. Over an 8-day operating period, the dry weight of the culture initially decreased slightly before stabilizing at an elevated level of ~8 g/L to achieve a volumetric methane production rate of 21 L/L culture-day and a H2 conversion efficiency of 62%. While some microbial contamination of the culture was observed via microscopy, it did not affect the methane production rate of the culture.