Hydrogen Production from Biomass-IISc's Technology   - India Renewable Energy Consulting – Solar, Biomass, Wind, Cleantech
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Hydrogen Production from Biomass-IISc’s Technology  

Here’s an article posted in The Hindu.

According to the article,

  • Innovation Origin: IISc (Indian Institute of Science) team introduces groundbreaking technology for hydrogen production.
  • Hydrogen from Biomass: The technology focuses on extracting hydrogen from biomass, offering a sustainable and eco-friendly alternative.
  • Energy Transition: Signals a major step towards cleaner energy sources, aligning with global efforts for a green energy transition.
  • Renewable Resource Utilization: Harnesses the potential of biomass, a renewable resource, to generate hydrogen, a clean energy carrier.

Here’s an elaboration on the process along with some specific data points:

  1. Biomass Selection: The process begins with the selection of suitable biomass feedstock. This can include various organic materials such as agricultural residues (rice husk, corn stover, wheat straw), forestry residues, energy crops (switchgrass, miscanthus), organic municipal waste, or algae.
  2. Pre-treatment: Biomass undergoes pre-treatment to break down complex structures such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and lignin into simpler compounds. This step typically involves processes like milling, grinding, or chemical treatments to enhance accessibility to enzymes or catalysts in subsequent steps.
  3. Hydrolysis: In this step, the pre-treated biomass is subjected to hydrolysis, where enzymes or acids break down the cellulose and hemicellulose into simpler sugars like glucose and xylose. This can be achieved through enzymatic hydrolysis using cellulase and hemicellulase enzymes or acid hydrolysis using dilute acids like sulfuric acid or hydrochloric acid.
  4. Fermentation: The resulting sugars from hydrolysis are then fermented by microorganisms such as bacteria or yeast. These microorganisms metabolize the sugars to produce hydrogen gas (H2) along with other by-products like carbon dioxide (CO2) and organic acids. The specific strain of microorganism and fermentation conditions are optimized to maximize hydrogen production.
  5. Hydrogen Purification: The hydrogen gas produced in the fermentation process is typically mixed with other gases like CO2 and traces of impurities. It needs to be purified to obtain high-purity hydrogen suitable for various applications. Techniques such as pressure swing adsorption (PSA), membrane separation, or cryogenic distillation are employed for hydrogen purification.
  6. Utilization of By-products: Apart from hydrogen, the process also generates by-products like organic acids, which can have various industrial applications. These by-products can be utilized to enhance the overall efficiency and economic viability of the process.

Specific Data Points:

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  • Efficiency: The efficiency of hydrogen production from biomass can vary depending on factors such as the type of biomass feedstock, pre-treatment methods, fermentation conditions, and hydrogen purification techniques. Typically, the overall energy efficiency of the process ranges from 60% to 80%.
  • Hydrogen Yield: The yield of hydrogen gas per unit of biomass feedstock can vary but is generally in the range of 1.5 to 3.0 moles of hydrogen per mole of glucose equivalent, depending on the efficiency of the fermentation process.
  • Cost: The cost of hydrogen production from biomass is influenced by factors such as the cost of feedstock, pre-treatment, fermentation, purification, and scale of operation. As of the latest data, the cost of hydrogen production from biomass is estimated to be in the range of $2 to $4 per kilogram, making it competitive with other hydrogen production methods.
  • Environmental Impact: Hydrogen production from biomass is considered a sustainable and environmentally friendly process since it utilizes renewable biomass feedstocks and produces minimal greenhouse gas emissions, particularly if the biomass feedstock is sourced sustainably.

The development of hydrogen fuel from biomass by the Indian Institute of Science team represents a significant advancement in the field of renewable energy technology, offering a promising pathway towards a more sustainable and carbon-neutral energy future.

Interestingly, we have some other posts related to this content:

 Green Hydrogen in Australia- HydGene’s Tech Turns Biomass into Green Molecules: HydGene Renewables secures $2M investment from CEFC for technology converting biomass into green hydrogen gas, with support from Agronomics. Biomass Gasification: The Future of Hydrogen Fuel – Article discusses converting organic materials into hydrogen fuel, a renewable alternative with fewer emissions, positioning it as a sustainable energy option.

About Narasimhan Santhanam (Narsi)

Narsi, a Director at EAI, Co-founded one of India's first climate tech consulting firm in 2008.

Since then, he has assisted over 250 Indian and International firms, across many climate tech domain Solar, Bio-energy, Green hydrogen, E-Mobility, Green Chemicals.

Narsi works closely with senior and top management corporates and helps then devise strategy and go-to-market plans to benefit from the fast growing Indian Climate tech market.


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