Electro-Active Technologies, Inc., a Tennessee-based start-up which focuses of transforming waste into high-value products, has licenced two biorefinery technologies which work as a system that converts organic waste into renewable hydrogen.
The technologies were invented and patented by Electro-Active Technologies’ co-founders, Abhijeet Borole and Alex Lewis, while working at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
The system combines biology and electrochemistry to degrade organic waste – such as plant biomass or food waste – to produce hydrogen. During the microbial electrolysis process, a diverse microbial community first breaks down organic material.
“There are usually thousands of microbes that are required to convert a complex organic mixture from biomass in electrons,” said Abhijeet Borole, who co-founded Electro-Active Technologies with Alex Lewis the company’s CEO.
“We developed an enrichment process to create this [microbial] consortium to efficiently extract electrons from organic materials.”
The electrolysis method then combines the protons and electrons into hydrogen molecules. The process was originally developed to address the problems of liquid waste during biofuel production, but Electro-Active Technologies will focus on fighting food waste.
“We waste about 40% of food that is produced in the world today, which generates methane in landfills,” said Borole.
“We can deliver a zero-emission fuel that reduces transportation emissions, while also using food waste to make the hydrogen.”