To reach governmental goals of reduced climate gas exhaust, technologies for improving the production, storage and distribution of renewable energies are necessary. An example is underground storage of hydrogen (H2) gas or hydrogen-methane (H2-CH4) gas mixtures, which can be produced with excessive renewable energies (Power-to-Gas). Salt caverns have excellent geochemical properties to serve as a short- and long-term underground storage for gases. However, the potential oxidation of stored H2 by lithoautotrophic microorganisms is an important but less studied aspect which is investigated within the HYPOS project H2-UGS. The risk assessment for microbiological processes during H2 storage in salt caverns is covered within this PhD project and in cooperation with Isodect GmbH, Leipzig, and MicroPro GmbH, Gommern.
It is assumed that indigenous sulfate-reducing microorganisms oxidize available H2, and with that produce H2S and other sulfur compounds which in turn lead to corrosion of facility infrastructure and pollution of the gases stored.
The aim of the PhD project is to analyze the microbial community originating from salt caverns. Due to the fact that these storage facilities are artificial and their usage as a gas storage only evolved in recent decades, not much research has been done on microbial structure-function-relationships thereof.
To investigate these microbial communities we study enrichment and pure cultures with stable-isotope probing (SIP, nanoSIMS, ICPMS) and next-generation sequencing technologies.
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