Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

New Research Turns Sewage Farms into Power Plants

29.04.2002


Researchers at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Process Technology Group have devised a process that turns wet waste from sewage farms and paper mills into a source of power.



University of Warwick researcher Dr Ashok Bhattacharya and his team are part of a Europe wide consortium that have cracked the problem of how to extract very pure levels of hydrogen from wet bio-matter, such as sewage or paper mill waste. This very pure hydrogen can then be used in “fuel cells” to power homes, factories and cars. The research consortium have now received £2.5million in European funding to work up their lab based solution into larger prototypes. Eventually the research team’s “plated membrane reactors” could be built as small industrial units, no bigger than a large room in some cases, and added directly to the sites of sewage plants or paper mills.

Previous attempts to extract pure hydrogen from bio-matter to power fuel cells have only met with limited success, even with dry material. The new process extracts very pure hydrogen from the more difficult but exceedingly abundant wet bio-matter and even makes a virtue of the water content of the material to generate even more pure hydrogen.


First the waste biomass is gasified breaking it down into its Methane CH4, water H2O, Carbonmonoxide CO, and carbondioxide CO2 and some hydrogen. All these gases are then fed into a reactor which uses them in a chemical reaction which extracts the hydrogen from both the methane and the water. In normal circumstances this reaction would reach an equilibrium and simply stop once a certain amount of hydrogen had been generated. However the research team uses a palladium coated ceramic semi permeable membrane as part of the reactor which only lets hydrogen pass through. This allows the researchers to both harvest very pure hydrogen from the system (it can be over 95% pure) and to keep the reaction going as long as it is fed with the waste biomass as the hydrogen never builds up to the point where a chemical equilibrium would be reached thus stopping the reaction.

The hydrogen produced by this very energy efficient method can then be used to power hydrogen fuel cells. This process is also much cleaner than traditional production of H2 as it does not use up fossil fuels, thus it produces no more CO2 than would be produced naturally from the material biodegrading and it produces no other emissions such as nitrous oxides.

Other novel engineering in the process includes the use of a coated nanocrystaline catalyst to accelerate the reaction, and particular methods to manage heat transfer and pressure.

The research project brings together the University of Warwick’s Warwick Process Technology Group team with Dutch, German and UK firms. In particular the Dutch firm BTG and the University of Twente have contributed to the gasification process and the Sheffield firm Dytech have contributed to the highly engineered porous ceramics used in the reactor.

Peter Dunn | mailto:m.willson@mwcommunication

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Conservationists are sounding the alarm: parrots much more threatened than assumed
15.09.2017 | Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen

nachricht A new indicator for marine ecosystem changes: the diatom/dinoflagellate index
21.08.2017 | Leibniz-Institut für Ostseeforschung Warnemünde

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

Im Focus: Fast, convenient & standardized: New lab innovation for automated tissue engineering & drug

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems Holding GmbH about commercial use of a multi-well tissue plate for automated and reliable tissue engineering & drug testing.

MBM ScienceBridge GmbH successfully negotiated a license agreement between University Medical Center Göttingen (UMG) and the biotech company Tissue Systems...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Comet or asteroid? Hubble discovers that a unique object is a binary

21.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Cnidarians remotely control bacteria

21.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Monitoring the heart's mitochondria to predict cardiac arrest?

21.09.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>