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 Upcycling of PET Bottles: New Ideas for Resource Cycles in Germany
25.06.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Betriebsfestigkeit und Systemzuverlässigkeit LBF

nachricht Dry landscapes can increase disease transmission
20.06.2018 | Forschungsverbund Berlin e.V.

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: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A smart safe rechargeable zinc ion battery based on sol-gel transition electrolytes

20.07.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Reversing cause and effect is no trouble for quantum computers

20.07.2018 | Information Technology

Princeton-UPenn research team finds physics treasure hidden in a wallpaper pattern

20.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>