Hotwiring microbial communities for enhanced unconventional gas production
In this project our objective is to exploit recent discoveries in direct electron transfer to methanogenic Archaea and the role of thermophilic temperatures on biological methane production from coal to enhance production rates and yield. The significance of direct electron transfer to methanogenic microbes lies in the departure from a longstanding (>60yo) dogma that molecular hydrogen (or formate) has to serve as an intermediate electron carrier from fermentative metabolism to methanogenic metabolism. Direct electron transfer negates the rate limiting diffusion of hydrogen in water thereby enhancing methane production rates. This is relevant to the anaerobic digestion and biogas recovery not only of coal and oil but also renewable resources such as lignocellulosic crops, food waste and wastewater sludge.