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Sunny Solution

Wastewater Turned into Hydrogen Fuel

Sunny Solution, Image: Rob Crandall/Shutterstock.com
Rob Crandall/Shutterstock.com

Producing pure hydrogen is expensive and energy intensive, but a research team at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, at Princeton University, used sunlight to pull hydrogen from industrial wastewater by using a specially designed chamber with a “Swiss cheese”-like black silicon interface.

As reported in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, the process is aided by bacteria that generate electrical current when consuming organic matter in the wastewater; the current, in turn, aids in the water splitting.

It “allows us to treat wastewater and simultaneously generate fuels,” says Jing Gu, a co-researcher and assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at San Diego State University.

The scientists say 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.

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