Microbial impact on subsurface H2 storage in porous reservoirs

Subsurface H2 storage could balance yearly fluctuations in energy production and demand. In this project, we elucidate the impact of microbial communities utilizing and contaminating stored H2 in porous reservoirs.


H2 can be produced through electrolysis from a surplus of renewable energy and is then stored underground in depleted oil and gas fields. However, H2 is also a rich energy source for anaerobic microbial metabolisms, which is crucial in subsurface environments where other electron donors are scarce. Despite their extreme conditions, porous reservoirs contain a diverse microbial community, from which methanogens, sulfate reducers and acetogens could exert a significant detrimental impact on H2 storage. Through their activities, they could cause a loss of the stored H2, the production of H2S, which contaminates the H2 and provokes corrosion of the equipment, and the loss of injectivity through accumulation of bio-based solids as biofilms and extracellular polymeric substances (ex: FeS).


The overall goal of this project is to evaluate the feasibility of subsurface H2 storage in porous reservoirs from a microbiological point of view. We will assess (i) the window of viability of different microbial functional groups (methanogens, sulfate reducers and acetogens), (ii) the kinetics of microbial growth and activities, and (iii) the production of bio-based solids (e.g. Extracellular Polymeric Substances (EPS), FeS) under subsurface storage conditions.


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