Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

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Project Dates: 2018 to 2021


Microbial conversion of methane to value-added chemicals is a potential technology for reducing dependence on petroleum-based products in an environmentally friendly manner. However, the poor mass transfer rate of sparingly soluble methane is a major barrier in the successful design and operation of such a process at large-scale. This sub-project will develop a novel methane fermentation system using gas permeable membranes that will significantly improve the methane transfer rate to microorganisms. We will address a number of issues limiting mass transfer rate and efficiency by optimizing methane partial pressure, surface area to volume ratio and recirculate rate.

Recently, we developed a membrane biofilm reactor (MBfR) that can produce volatile fatty acids (VFAs) from methane fermentation under oxygen-limiting conditions. However, the pathway and the key microorganisms involved in methane conversion are still not clear.

This subproject will develop MBfR technology for high-rate cultivation of methanotrophs for applications such as VFA/solvent production, single cell protein production, and bioremediation of oxidized contaminants such as perchlorate in groundwater.



  • ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship FL170100086