If you’ve been reading the news lately, you’ve probably heard stories about the many startup companies who are using microorganisms or algae to generate fuel. On the face of it, this sounds like science fiction, yet in fact, it is based in simply chemistry.
Take for example, methane production. When methane is burned, it reacts with oxygen and gives off heat, water, and carbon dioxide. Conversely, to create methane you only need a microorganism capable of transforming water and CO2 back into methane and oxygen.
This type of chemical reaction, called anaerobic respiration, is common among microbes that use carbon instead of oxygen for respiration. For example, anaerobic organisms in a cows gut are what cause a typical cow to emit around 250 liters of methane per day.
Although the process of creating methane fuel is well known, the knowledge required to scale up the technology is more recent. One of the most critical factors is a controlled environment. High CO2 levels are required to maximize methane production, while low oxygen levels are required to protect the organisms, since oxygen is poison to them. Customers often use products like our 0-30% CO2 meter for this.