oil rig

gold hydrogen from old oil rig

A new gold fever may be at hand. Not about the yellow glossy metal, however, but something totally different: gold hydrogen. It comes from microbes that eat oil and produce H2.

Gold hydrogen occurs naturally, deep in the earth. But it can’t be extracted at a profit. This could change with new subsurface biomanufacturing techniques that hold the promise for efficient and clean production. When burned, its only byproduct is water. At almost double the efficiency of conventional fuel, it is a prized source of clean energy. However, conventional hydrogen production is energy-intensive; thus, hydrogen products are classified by colors — green, blue, grey, brown, and more — that describe the process used for creation (including electrolysis, steam-methane, oil, or coal production methods).

Gold hydrogen from depleted wells

US startup Cemvita Factory is using special microbes to generate hydrogen from depleted and abandoned oil and gas wells. The company’s process uses naturally occurring micro-organisms that consume the carbon in the gas and oil and release hydrogen – generating up to 20-50 tonnes of what it terms ‘gold’ hydrogen per field. Cemvita defines gold hydrogen as “the biological production of hydrogen in the subsurface through the consumption of trapped or abandoned resources”.

With the potential to revitalize and remediate thousands of depleted, abandoned oil and gas reservoirs around the country, the extraction techniques meld existing infrastructure with cutting-edge microbiology to scale clean energy solutions quickly while creating new revenue streams for heavy industry companies.

“Gold Hydrogen presents a unique opportunity for innovative companies who would like to lead the energy transition, not follow,” says Moji Karimi, CEO of Cemvita Factory. “Especially the legacy Oil and Gas companies with existing assets and infrastructure, skilled workforces, and global footprints.”

Reservoir microbiology has incredible potential for unlocking the promise of Gold Hydrogen in a clean, efficient way,” said Zach Broussard, Head of Petroleum Microbiology at Cemvita and Gold Hydrogen Program Manager. “Through this program, we are looking forward to collaborating with companies who value true disruptive innovation and are committed to pioneering the clean energy transition, not just talking about it.”

“The need for innovative energy solutions is paramount as the world continues to shift towards green energy. To help clients achieve their goals of outcome-focused, safe, and achievable energy solutions, we joined Cemvita and partners on this important initiative,” says EXP’s Business Development Director, Energy Services L.J. Guillotte.

“Cemvita Factory’s work on building an alliance to commercialize Gold Hydrogen and to transform heavy industries for a net-zero economy shows how Houston companies can lead in low-carbon energy innovation,” said Brett Perlman, CEO of the Center for Houston’s Future. “The Center is creating a coalition of stakeholders, including Cemvita and its partners, committed to developing the Houston region as a clean hydrogen hub. Cemvita’s work illustrates how Houston’s deep energy industry expertise can drive this effort.”

“We continue to believe that innovation and collaboration are critical to the future of hydrogen and the accomplishment of private and public carbon emission reduction goals,” stated Jill Evanko, CEO of Chart Industries. “Cemvita has a unique approach to this, and we are pleased to partner with another application that is likely to utilize Chart hydrogen and cryogenic equipment.”

Joint partnership

A joint industry partnership to commercialize clean, gold hydrogen, the program’s founding members include Cemvita Factory (innovator in low-carbon microbial solutions for energy and mining resource extraction, production, and renewal), and Chart Industries, Inc. (a leader in clean energy solutions). Other collaborators include EXP (a global engineering and consulting firm); and The Center for Houston’s Future (a nonprofit organization devoted to fact-based strategic planning, collaboration, and action on issues of great importance to the long-term future of Houston).

Through the Gold Hydrogen Program, member companies collaborate to generate gold hydrogen cleanly, efficiently, and at scale to meet rising global demand. Program members receive early access to IP at preferential rates, and participation in the group is capped at ten members. For more on the Gold Hydrogen Program and information on how to join, access www.goldhydrogen.com.