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 Reducing household waste with less energy
18.01.2017 | FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz-Institut für Informationsinfrastruktur GmbH

nachricht Joint research project on wastewater for reuse examines pond system in Namibia
19.12.2016 | Technische Universität Darmstadt

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: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

Im Focus: Designing Architecture with Solar Building Envelopes

Among the general public, solar thermal energy is currently associated with dark blue, rectangular collectors on building roofs. Technologies are needed for aesthetically high quality architecture which offer the architect more room for manoeuvre when it comes to low- and plus-energy buildings. With the “ArKol” project, researchers at Fraunhofer ISE together with partners are currently developing two façade collectors for solar thermal energy generation, which permit a high degree of design flexibility: a strip collector for opaque façade sections and a solar thermal blind for transparent sections. The current state of the two developments will be presented at the BAU 2017 trade fair.

As part of the “ArKol – development of architecturally highly integrated façade collectors with heat pipes” project, Fraunhofer ISE together with its partners...

Im Focus: How to inflate a hardened concrete shell with a weight of 80 t

At TU Wien, an alternative for resource intensive formwork for the construction of concrete domes was developed. It is now used in a test dome for the Austrian Federal Railways Infrastructure (ÖBB Infrastruktur).

Concrete shells are efficient structures, but not very resource efficient. The formwork for the construction of concrete domes alone requires a high amount of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

Nothing will happen without batteries making it happen!

05.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

A big nano boost for solar cells

18.01.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Glass's off-kilter harmonies

18.01.2017 | Materials Sciences

Toward a 'smart' patch that automatically delivers insulin when needed

18.01.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>