DOE Technical Targets for Hydrogen Production from Microbial Biomass Conversion

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This table lists the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) technical targets for hydrogen production from microbial biomass conversion.

More information about targets can be found in the Hydrogen Production section of the Fuel Cell Technologies Office's Multi-Year Research, Development, and Demonstration Plan.

Technical Targets: Dark Fermentative Hydrogen Production and Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs)a

Characteristics Units 2011 Status 2015 Target 2020 Target
Feedstock costc cents/lb. sugar 13.5 10 8
Yield of H2 production from glucose by fermentationd mol H2/mol glucose 3.2e 4 6
Yield of H2 production from glucose by integrated MEC—fermentationf mol H2/mol glucose 6e 9e
Duration of continuous production (fermentation) Time 17 daysg 3 months 6 months
MEC cost of electrodes $/m2 2,400h 300 50

a The targets in this table are for research tracking. The final targets for this technology are costs that are market competitive. This table will be updated in a future version of this plan to incorporate hydrogen cost targets and feedstock assumptions.
b Technology readiness targets (beyond 2020) are 10 molar yield of H2 production from glucose, 6 cents/lb. sugar feedstock cost, and 12 months duration of continuous production.
c Targets are from the DOE Bioenergy Technologies Office Multi Year Program Plan 2007–2012, August 2005, for sugar from lignocellulosic biomass. The targets have been shifted 2–5 years in the table for purposes of FCT planning pending further analysis of this pathway.
d The theoretical maximum from known fermentative pathways is 4, although the H2 content of 1 mole of glucose and the H2O required for fermentation is 12. Clearly, in order to achieve molar yields greater than 4, the feasibility of developing new pathways or discovering new microbes needs to be assessed.
e In 2010, NREL reported a H2 molar yield of 3.2 by supplying limited amounts of cellulose substrate during fermentation (2010 Annual Progress Report DOE Hydrogen Program).
f The yield assumes a system where the effluent from the glucose-fed fermentation system is used as feedstock for an MEC (e.g., in 2015 the target for fermentation is 4 mol H2/mol glucose while that for MEC is 2 mol H2/mol glucose, for a total combined target of 6 mol H2/mol glucose). The goal is for continuous flow operation conditions.
g Van Ginkel, S., Sung, S. 2001. Environ. Sci. Technol. 35: 4726-4730.
h Estimated for replacing Pt with MoS2, based on Tokash, J.C. and B.E. Logan. 2011. "Electrochemical evaluation of a molybdenum disulfide catalyst for the hydrogen evolution reaction under solution conditions applicable to microbial electrolysis cells." Int. J. Hydrogen Energy. 36(16): 9439-9445.