This is a branded podcast made in collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and GTM Creative Strategies.
As grids get saturated with wind and solar electricity, there’s pressure to find new ways to store that energy across daily, monthly or seasonal variations.
Could the answer be a billion-year-old microbe?
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and SoCalGas are currently testing a new bioreactor that could turn renewable electrons into renewable methane — allowing excess generation to be “stored” in existing natural gas pipelines.
The system relies on an ancient microorganism that ferments hydrogen and carbon dioxide and turns it into methane. By feeding the bugs hydrogen from renewable resources and CO2 from industrial sources, companies like SoCalGas could harness a new supply of renewable natural gas.
NREL has been testing the process in the lab for years. And it finally built a larger-scale version of the bioreactor.
We sent producer Catherine Jaffee to NREL’s lab in Golden, Colorado to check it out. We’ll learn how it works in the first part of the episode.
In the second half of the episode, we talk with NREL’s Kevin Harrison and SoCalGas’ Ron Kent about how the system is performing so far.
Learn more about all the world-changing research on clean energy happening at NREL.