Microbial key players discovered: The Key to Optimized Biogas Production
In a groundbreaking development, researchers involved in the EU Micro4Biogas project have unveiled a powerful player in the world of biogas production – the Darwinibacteriales. This newfound group of anaerobic bacteria holds the potential to revolutionize the biogas industry, making it a cornerstone in the global shift away from fossil fuels.
Biogas, alongside wind and solar energy, stands as a vital pillar in achieving energy independence while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels. Germany, currently home to approximately 9,600 biogas plants, is at the forefront of biogas production globally. These plants convert plant and animal residues into biogas, with the help of anaerobic bacteria. Yet, there’s untapped potential within these systems, and the Micro4Biogas project seeks to unlock it by optimizing biogas production processes and making it a cost-effective alternative to conventional fuels.
What’s truly remarkable about this discovery is the identification of Darwinibacteriales, a previously unknown taxonomic order of bacteria that excels at breaking down organic matter. Researchers believe that these microorganisms could hold the key to optimizing biogas production on a grand scale.
Until now, the role and functionality of these microbial powerhouses in the fermentation process remained largely mysterious. But as part of the Micro4Biogas project, a collaborative effort involving researchers from TU Dresden and partners from Spain and the Netherlands, light has been shed on this enigmatic black box. They analyzed 80 fermentation residue samples from 45 large biogas plants in their respective countries, employing DNA sequencing to examine their microbial composition. The result was nothing short of astounding: representatives of the Darwinibacteriales were discovered in every single sample. This discovery opens doors to the development of customized, highly efficient populations of biogas-producing microbes, promising to bolster the resilience and efficiency of biogas plants.
Micro4Biogas, a project coordinated by the University of Valencia, receives funding from the European research framework program Horizon 2020, for a total of 5.7 million euros until 2025. It draws upon the collective expertise of 15 universities and companies spanning six countries, including prominent participants like the Technische Universität Dresden, the Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg, and BioEnergie Verbund e.V., all working in concert to shape the future of sustainable energy.
The discovery of Darwinibacteriales displays the power of collaboration and scientific exploration, opening new horizons in the quest for cleaner, more sustainable energy sources. With these microbial game-changers in play, the biogas industry is at the edge of a transformation that could help to realise a greener, and more sustainable future.