The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy has chosen to support a collaborative initiative involving Southern Company Gas, Electro-Active Technologies, and T2M Global to create a technology for producing clean hydrogen from waste.

The DOE awarded Southern Company research and development $1 million for the project, which will advance next-generation clean hydrogen technologies and support the DOE’s recently announced Hydrogen Energy EarthShot initiative, which aims to reduce costs and accelerate breakthroughs in the clean hydrogen sector. The goal of this project is to de-risk, develop, and demonstrate high-efficiency, low-cost renewable hydrogen generation for use in transportation and distributed energy applications. Its long-term goal is to remove roadblocks to the commercialization of this clean, renewable fuel.

“Southern Company is committed to reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in its enterprise-wide operations, including Southern Company Gas, by 2050. Having a diverse portfolio of clean fuels is key, and we see great potential in hydrogen technologies. We are excited for this opportunity to work with our partners and the DOE in advancing the wet waste-to-clean hydrogen pathway and to help bring the hydrogen economy to reality.”

Robin Lanier, renewable gas director for Southern Company Gas.

The project’s concept aims to generate hydrogen from food waste in a dispersed manner, diverting waste from landfills and reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the food value chain and transportation sector. The system will provide garbage generators with a cutting-edge option for diverting significant amounts of food waste from landfills while also complying with municipal rules. The method relies on biology and electrochemistry to convert food waste into electrons and protons, which are then combined at the cathode to make hydrogen using a low external voltage.

“This project provides a unique opportunity to highlight the feasibility of generating meaningful amounts of hydrogen and a practical means to offset more carbon-intensive fuels. As the movement toward the hydrogen vector is gaining speed, demand for all sources of hydrogen is increasing. However, developing pathways to clean hydrogen is critical. Funding from DOE’s Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office is making this possible. Further, the Biden Administration’s focus on hydrogen as the first EarthShot illustrates the need to get to a low-cost, clean hydrogen within a decade.”

Abhijeet Borole, Ph.D., co-founder and president of Electro-Active Technologies.

The project, dubbed ‘Novel Microbial Electrolysis System for Conversion of Biowastes into Low-Cost Renewable Hydrogen,’ will be headed by Southern Company Gas and will be built on core technology from Electro-Active Technologies, an early-stage firm that creates waste-to-value solutions. T2M Global will assist with research into end-use applications, such as fuel cell testing. This project will assist Electro-Active Technologies in its efforts to demonstrate waste-to-hydrogen technology at the pilot scale in partnership with its partners.

Anela Dokso

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