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Fermenting for hydrogen

Prof. REN Nanqi observed in 1990 a phenomenon indicating that hydrogen producing

bacteria would produce hydrogen in the course of organic waste water treatment. From

that time on, REN and coworkers have worked many years to develop a technology that is

able to produce hydrogen from organic waste water, while decomposing organic matters

and purifying waste water. Researchers completed a limited scale experiment to extract

hydrogen from organic waste water using a fermentation process in the period from 1990

to 1996. They furthered their pilot study during the period of 1996-1999, and developed a

proprietary biotechnique to produce hydrogen from organic waste water. The project was

financed by a National 973 Program in 2000-2005, during which a new class of strains was

discovered by researchers. The new strain makes a fine catalyst in producing hydrogen,

with an easy demand for environment, which makes massive production of hydrogen

possible. REN and coworkers established in 2005 a fermentation based hydrogen

producing line with a daily capacity of 1200 cubic meters, the first of its kind in the world,

under a demonstration project financed by the National 863 Program.

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