Accelerating the commercial implementation of Electromethanogenic Reactors

University of Westminster

Kyle is investigating how the process of electro-methanogenesis can be optimised to increase energy production, and reduce treatment time of wastewater when compared to conventional anaerobic digestion. Electro-methanogenesis is the microbial conversion of electrical current, hydrogen and carbon dioxide to methane. Kyle’s project will focus on accelerating the commercial implementation of industrial-scale reactors. The project is building upon current research that has successfully been demonstrated at a pilot scale in the UK and Kenya treating industrial and agricultural waste.

The first part will consist of developing a unique microbial culture to optimise the startup and treatment efficiency. The project will then involve characterising the electrical response of these microbial cultures to organic matter concentrations, in order to create biosensors to increase efficiency and prevent system downtime. Finally, a technoeconomic analysis of EMR and anaerobic digestion will be carried out to determine the best feedstocks and usage scenarios for the technology.

This technology should enable the production of autonomous bioreactors that manage themselves using AI and biosensors to maintain a continuous output. Kyle hopes that this work will help make it affordable and accessible to turn all waste into energy, clean water and agricultural inputs globally.

Kyle is a bioelectrochemical engineer at WASE Limited, where he has worked since 2019. Kyle holds a Batchelor’s degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Westminster, where he continued to work as a research assistant.

"1 in 3 people globally lack access to sanitation and clean water . This project aims to solve that, by developing reactors that turn dirty water into clear water and power. The most exciting element of the research is the way we are planning to implement it and test it on real operating pilot systems. It’s rare to get to conceptualise, conduct initial investigations and then implement your research in such a way."