Innovation Sphere

Projects Sharing Researchers


  • Nicole Buan Murphy
  • Jennifer Catlett



Project TitleIncreased Yield of Renewable Methane Using Anaerobic Digestion
Track Code2068
Short Description

This technology is a method for modifying a bacterial strain to produce methane at a higher rate compared to the parent strain without affecting it’s growth rate.

TagsBiogas, Biomethane, M. acetivorans, green technology, Methanogens
Posted DateJun 13, 2016 4:14 PM


Nicole Buan Murphy
Jennifer Catlett

Technology Description

The researchers at UNL have modified a methanogen to produce methane gas at significantly higher rates than the parent strain. This strain of bacteria has the potential to be grown in anaerobic fermenters to produce renewable methane which can be used in place of compressed natural gas (CNG). The increased rate of methane production does not impact growth rate of the methanogen. Current fermentation processes to produce methane use consortium of bacteria which cause frequent failures resulting in the need to shut down and clean the reactors. The modified strain produced by this method should require less down time, have a decreased demand for starting materials, and produce an increased yield of methane.

Inventive Feature(s)

The ability to modify HdrABC sequence in the microbe hereby leading to increased methane production.


•  Increased Methane Production – The production of methane is 35% higher in the modified strain compared to parent strain.
•  Reduced Process Failure Rate – Anaerobic digesters using wild type bacteria frequently fail and must be restarted. This results in loss of time, effort, wages, and revenue.
•  Requires Less Feedstock – The modified strain uses less feed stock than conventional strains.
•  Does Not Utilize Hydrogen – The bacteria is compatible with Hydrogen utilizing bacteria found in traditional manure-fed digestion systems.
•  Normal Growth Rates Maintained – The modified bacteria do not show a decreased growth rate which is atypical for modified methanogens.

Potential Application(s)

•  Wastewater treatment
•  Agriculture byproducts processing
•  Algal biofuels plants

Intellectual Property

Patent Application Filed


Lieber, D. J., Catlett, J., Madayiputhiya, N., Nandukumar, R., Lopez, M.M., Metcalf, W.M., and N.R. Buan. 2014.  A multienzyme complex channels substrates and electrons through acetyl-CoA and methane biosynthesis pathways in Methanosarcina. PLOS, 10.1371/journal.pone.0107563

Related Technologies

Licensing Contact

Jeewan Jyot, Ph.D.
Senior Technology Manager
Phone: 402-419-8443

About NUtech Ventures

NUtech Ventures is the non-profit technology commercialization affiliate of the University of Nebraska—Lincoln. Our mission is to facilitate the commercialization and practical use of innovations generated through the research activities at the University of Nebraska.


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