Institute holds ceremony to complete a plant for experiments based on the outcomes of studies on marine biomass hydrogen
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) has announced the launch of studies on mass producing biohydrogen using ‘extremophile’ microbes living in deep-sea vents.
A ceremony to dedicate a plant to conduct experiments based on the outcomes of studies on marine biomass hydrogen took place at the Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute (KORDI) in Ansan, south of Seoul, on June 19.
Among those on hand at the ceremony were Vice Minister Transport, Logistics and Maritime Affairs Joo Sung-ho and KORDI President Kang Jung-keuk.
The 90 square-meter plant facility in the fourth laboratory of KORDI is fitted with 5-liter, 30-liter, and 300-liter anaerobic glove boxes and apparatuses for continuously separating anaerobic cells.
KORDI is working on a 52.6 billion won state-initiated project for producing bio hydrogen via marine organisms lasting from 2009 until 2019. The research institute succeeded in converting carbon monoxide into a maximum of 100 kilograms of hydrogen per day by using the Thermococcus onnurinues, also called NA1, which is a kind of archaea found in deep-sea vents 1,650 meters below the sea. NA1 is classified as an extremophile microbe capable of surviving in temperatures ranging from 63 degrees to 90 degrees Centigrade.
KORDI aims to secure a technology to produce up to 2 tons of hydrogen in collaboration with the private sector.
The research institute forecasts that the technology would be employed to convert two-thirds of 3 million tons of carbon monoxide, which the nation’s three steelworks emit while smelting per year, into 10,000 tons of biohydrogen, an equivalent of electricity for 10,000 households yearly or 50,000 hydrogen-fueled cars.
Currently, steelworks reuse between 60 percent and 65 percent of the carbon monoxide they emit from their smelting activities, converting it into heat as part of efforts to reduce the emission of harmful substances into the air. The remaining lower concentration carbon monoxide amounts are spewed out into the atmosphere. The downside of the technology is that the conversion costs more than 1,000 won to use one kilogram of natural gas.
The NA1 is found to contain a record eight hydrogenase clusters, and it has proven to be the world’s highest biohydrogen productivity.
The discovery of the NA1 was announced in the November 2008 Journal of Bacteriology as well as in the 2012 Biotechnology Letters. A patent on the microbe has been registered in Russia.
A paper on the NA1 biohydrogen production mechanism, written by KORDI Professors Lee Jung-hyun and Kang Sung-kyun, was published in the September 2010 issue of Nature. The outcome of the study ranked in the top five among 100 prominent papers selected by the National Science & Technology Commission in 2012.
The research team is to complete the first-phase project to develop the core technologies of the biohydrogen production by the end of June and accelerate the second-phase commercialization stage to produce a pilot scale of 2 tons of biohydrogen by 2015.
The MLTM said the government plans to expand investments to commercialize biohydrogen production as the demand for hydrogen is set to surge as a green energy source for automobiles and fuel cells. #