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Valorization of CO2 through BIOMethanation and INTENSification of gas-liquid mass transfer – BIOMIntens

Submission summary

In the light of CO2 valorization and further reduction of greenhouse gases emissions, the BIOMIntens project aims at intensifying the biological methanation process (BIOM), which itself constitutes a building block of the Power-to-Gas strategy platform for the long-term and seasonal electrical energy storage. To enhance the production of carbon-neutral biomethane using H2 derived from intermittent renewable energy sources, the objective is to develop a biogas upgrading technology in conjunction with the policy framework for energy transition. Two high-potential routes will be compared: the injection of H2 in an anaerobic digester (in-situ BIOM), and the design of a specific bioreactor able to treat CO2/H2 mixtures using microbial consortia or pure cultures (ex-situ BIOM). Hence, an original transdisciplinary methodology is proposed, coupling microbiology, microbial engineering, chemical engineering, microbial ecology and Life Cycle Assessment from the skills and competences of three public partners, Institut Pascal (UMR CNRS 6602), LGE (UMR CNRS 6023) and LBE (INRAE, UR50), and one private partner Bio-Valo). The project is supported by a multi-scale approach, from the microorganism to the bioreactor scale, integrating experiments and modelling in order to: (i) select methanogenic archaea and anaerobic consortia exhibiting high hydrogenotrophic activity; (ii) intensify gas-to-liquid mass transfer; (iii) optimize CO2/H2 feed and operating conditions in in-situ and ex-situ BIOM. The 42-month work program is divided into four scientific workpackages (WP) to which a WP0 for project coordination, exploitation and dissemination is added. In detail, WP1 will bring the fundamental knowledge necessary to the project, such as the measurement of the thermodynamic and transport properties of H2 in culture media, the selection of hydrogenotrophic Archaea enabling faster metabolic pathways for converting CO2/H2 mixtures in CH4 from human or animal gut, and the development of quantitative molecular methods for a follow-up of the strains. The experimental work aimed to optimize CO2 conversion yield and CH4 productivity will be carried out in WP2 (ex-situ) and WP3 (in-situ), respectively. These WPs will address at the same time biotic (enrichment strategy…) and abiotic (pH, pressure, retention time…) factors, and will aim at quantifying the physical (mass transfer, chemical acceleration…) and biological (impact on the microbiome, inhibition of metabolic pathways…) mechanisms induced by the injection of H2/CO2 mixtures. In WP2, a specific issue is the design of a specific bubble column/airlift bioreactor for which technological choices will give access to better control of mixing and interfacial area. In WP3, the main issue is that anaerobic digestion and BIOM processes are coupled, which requires a specific investigation of in- and ex-situ conditions in parallel. Finally, WP4 will develop robust models based on experimental data from WP2 and WP3, in order to conduct a techno-economic and environmental analysis of biogas upgrading. This will address two scenarios, considering in-situ BIOM (enriched biogas in the digester outlet stream) and ex-situ BIOM (conversion of CO2 from the biogas purification step) in French biogas plants, respectively. The deliverables will assess the economic and environmental sustainability of BIOM for CO2 reuse and valorization, the production carbon-neutral fuel, and as key technology for energy transition. They will provide the fundamental and technical knowledge necessary for technology transfer to industrial scale. The long-term economic impact will also address the biogas industry, and the project should highlight that BIOM constitutes a safe, clean and socially acceptable alternative in the framework of CO2 reuse and energy storage for intermittent renewable sources.

Project coordination

Christophe Vial (INSTITUT PASCAL)

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


INRAE- LBE Laboratoire de Biotechnologie de l'Environnement INRAE

Help of the ANR 497,650 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: January 2021 - 48 Months

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