Houston-based synthetic biology company Cemvita Factory Inc. has just unveiled a jaw-dropping technique that uses oil-eating microbes to produce the world’s cheapest clean hydrogen.
In fact, the company claims to be able to produce hydrogen for less than $1 per kilogram (2.2 lb).
And while the game-changing discovery might seem a bit far off and almost too good to be true, it’s already passed lab and field testing, meaning commercial availability may be just around the corner.
In addition to producing clean and incredibly cheap hydrogen (i.e. the production of which does not release greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere), microbes consume petroleum , making them ideal for injection into depleted oil wells.
This is precisely what Cemvita plans to do: add the microbes to the oil wells, let them feed on the oil and excrete clean hydrogen.
Microbes have been an integral part of human history for thousands of years, playing a vital role in our consumption of food and drink, such as the yeast used to brew wine or beer.
Pertinent: Scientists Discover Predatory Ocean Microbe That Can Naturally Capture CO2
Today, science has advanced to the point where genetic engineering has opened up a whole range of new possibilities for making different microorganisms work.
And with the help of artificial intelligence, scientists can now identify the exact parts of the genetic code that are responsible for specific desirable behaviors to repeat them and increase the performance of the microbe.
Cemvita does just that.
Pertinent: Scientists create a new material that produces 20 times more hydrogen!
The company has focused its efforts on microbes that consume hydrocarbons, such as crude oil, and ferment them only to excrete CO2 and hydrogen.
Cemvita intends to pump these microbes into depleted oil wells and capture the excreted gases as they bubble up to the top of the wells.
The next step in the process is the separation of hydrogen for sale and processing and carbon dioxide for sequestration.