Hydrogen is a critical component in the manufacture of thousands of common products from plastic to fertilizers, but producing pure hydrogen is expensive and energy intensive. Now, a research team at Princeton University has harnessed sunlight to isolate hydrogen from industrial wastewater.
In a paper published February 19 in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, the researchers reported that their process doubled the currently accepted rate for scalable technologies that produce hydrogen by splitting water.
The technique uses a specially-designed chamber with a “swiss-cheese” black silicon interface to split water and isolate hydrogen gas. The process is aided by bacteria that generate electrical current when consuming organic matter in the wastewater; the current, in turn, aids the water splitting process.
The team, led by Zhiyong Jason Ren, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, chose wastewater from breweries for the test. They ran the wastewater through the chamber, used a lamp to simulate sunlight, and watched the organic compounds breakdown and the hydrogen bubble up.
The process “allows us to treat wastewater and simultaneously generate fuels,” said Jing Gu, a co-researcher and assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at San Diego State University.
The researchers said the technology could appeal to refineries and chemical plants, which typically produce their own hydrogen from fossil fuels, and face high costs for cleaning wastewater.
Historically, hydrogen production has relied oil, gas or coal, and an energy intensive method that involves processing the hydrocarbon stock with steam. Chemical manufacturers then combine the hydrogen gas with carbon or nitrogen to create high value chemicals, such as methanol and ammonia. The two are ingredients in synthetic fibers, fertilizer, plastics, and cleaning products, among other everyday goods.
Although hydrogen can be used as a vehicle fuel, the chemical industry is currently the largest producer and consumer of hydrogen. Producing chemicals in highly industrialized countries requires more energy than producing iron, steel, metals, and food, according to a 2016 report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The report estimates that producing basic chemicals will continue to be the top industrial consumer of energy over the next two decades.
“It’s a win-win situation for chemical and other industries. They can save on wastewater treatment and save on their energy use through this hydrogen creation process,” said Lu Lu, the first author on the study and an associate research scholar at the Andlinger Center.
According to the researchers, this is the first time actual wastewater, not lab-made solutions, has been used to produce hydrogen using photocatalysis. The team produced the gas continuously over four days until the wastewater ran out, which is significant, the researchers said, because comparable systems that produce chemicals from water have historically failed after a couple hours of use. The researchers measured the hydrogen production by monitoring the amount of electrons produced by the bacteria, which directly correlates to the amount of hydrogen produced. The measurement was at the high end for similar lab experiments and, Ren said, twice as high as technologies with the potential to scale for industrial use.
Ren said he sees this technology as scalable because the chamber used to isolate the hydrogen is modular, and several can be stacked to process more wastewater and produce more hydrogen.
Though a lifecycle analysis has not yet been done, the researchers said the process will at least be energy neutral, if not energy positive, and eliminates the need for fossil fuels to create hydrogen.
The researchers said they will likely experiment with producing larger amounts of hydrogen and other gases in the future, and look forward to moving this technology to industry.
The Latest on: Wastewater treatment and energy production
via Google News
The Latest on: Wastewater treatment and energy production
- These are the jobs and sectors exempted from California's coronavirus stay-home orderon March 20, 2020 at 5:02 pm
energy, communications, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, emergency services, and the defense industrial base.
- Outlook into the United States Progressing Cavity Pumps Market to 2025 - Motivators, Restraints & Opportunitieson March 19, 2020 at 9:00 am
/PRNewswire/ -- The "US Progressing Cavity Pumps Market 2019-2025" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The US progressing cavity ...
- US Progressing Cavity Pumps Market (2019 to 2025) - Featuring Apergy, National Oilwell Varco & Schlumberger Among Otherson March 19, 2020 at 2:24 am
Dublin, March 19, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The "US Progressing Cavity Pumps Market 2019-2025" report has been added to ResearchAndMarkets.com's offering. The US progressing cavity pumps market is ...
- Biological Wastewater Treatment Market Worth $11.1 billion by 2025 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™on March 17, 2020 at 7:32 am
low consumption of energy, and production of byproducts such as methane gas after treatment The industrial segment is projected to be a major consumer of the biological wastewater treatment during ...
- Biological Wastewater Treatment Market Worth $11.1 billion by 2025 - Exclusive Report by MarketsandMarkets™on March 17, 2020 at 7:30 am
/PRNewswire/ -- According to the new market research report "Biological Wastewater Treatment Market by Process (Aerobic, Anaerobic), End-Use ...
- Why Scientists Should Shape Environmental Policyon March 14, 2020 at 5:03 am
The case of fracking in Pennsylvania shows that if experts and fossil fuel industry leaders can cooperate, innovation is possible.
- Water & Wastewater Treatment Equipment Market By Production, Manufacturer, Growth, Supply, Demand, SWOT Analysis Forecast To 2026on February 16, 2020 at 11:23 pm
The prime objective of this report is to help the user understand the market in terms of its definition, segmentation, market potential, influential trends, and the challenges that the market is ...
via Bing News