Dr. Ed van Niel
Biological hydrogen production has regained interest and the research in the field increases in intention. At Applied Microbiology we focus on the physiology of extreme thermophilic hydrogen producers, especially species of Caldicellulosiruptor. These organisms have a broad substrate spectrum and produce hydrogen at yields near the theoretical maximum (4 mole H2/mol hexose).
We use both classical and modern tools to understand the regulation of the central carbon metabolism of C. saccharolyticus to improve hydrogen yields during dark fermentations on biomass hydrolysates. In addition, the influence of “enviromics” on the physiology of these Gram positive bacteria is studied to optimize hydrogen production in thermo-bioreactors. For this purpose we apply strict anaerobic techniques, chemostats, PCR, HPLC, GC, enzyme assays and bioinformatics. For facilitating deeper insights in the physiology we are developing both genome-wide and kinetic models. Finally, we also investigate defined co-cultures that have shown to possess superior yields and productivities compared to pure cultures or undefined consortia.