Turning Wastewater Into Hydrogen Fuel

By Meera Dolasia on October 2, 2011

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Finding a green fuel that is cheap and plentiful enough to replace fossil fuels is one of the biggest challenges that humans face - Not only because of the global warming issues, but also, because fossil fuels are a finite source. While hydrogen is a viable replacement, it does not occur naturally and to produce it, takes energy from 'dirty' fossil fuels - Now, there may be a solution.

Researchers from Pennsylvania State University have devised a radical, energy-efficient way to extract unlimited amounts of hydrogen from wastewater, using seawater and, some special bacteria.

Since 2009, the team led by the Professor of Environmental Engineering, Bruce Logan, has been conducting tests with bacteria that are capable of releasing hydrogen from wastewater. Once they were able to figure out the 'right combination' of bacteria needed for the optimal extraction of hydrogen, they had to come with a 'clean' way to provide the bacteria with the energy it needed to eat through the wastewater.

That's when they thought of a brilliant idea - Reverse Desalination! They figured that since the process of removing salt from seawater takes up energy, doing the opposite would release energy. So, if they could find a source of seawater close to a wastewater treatment plant and hitch the two together, it should in principal at least, give the bacteria enough 'fuel' to work and produce hydrogen - Which could then be captured in a hydrogen production plant.

Turns out, they were absolutely right. However, as with most of these ingenious ideas, this one works perfectly in the laboratory - Now, they have to test further and see if it works on a large scale and more importantly, if it makes economical sense. We sure hope so - For not only does it take care of our fuel needs, but also, helps clean up our wastewater!

Resources: gizmag.com, fastcompany.com, physorg.com

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134 Comments
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  • SharkTuesday, November 29, 2016 at 7:13 am
    Cool to
    • whatTuesday, December 1, 2015 at 10:46 am
      what in the world thats so cooooooolllllllll
      • bobo123Wednesday, October 28, 2015 at 6:54 pm
        wow cool
        • dovewing12402
          dovewing12402Tuesday, February 17, 2015 at 8:09 am
          I like this article but I wish there was a little more detail. :)
          • jasminesmediaarts
            jasminesmediaartsWednesday, December 4, 2013 at 7:38 am
            Cool
            • scienceThursday, April 11, 2013 at 9:45 am
              This is interesting to me me, mostly because almost everyday humans are working to try to find other energy fuel instead of Natural gas or fossil fuels. But sense Hydro-power is a Renewable Source of energy, We could use this for many years. Like they said in the last paragraph, it doesn't just take care of our fuel needs, but it also takes care of our waste water. With that statement It could help both Humans, and Earth (Because when the coal is being processed into energy it spits out of the coal power-plant, pollution.)
              • graciellaMonday, October 15, 2012 at 1:50 pm
                wow
                • careThursday, October 11, 2012 at 10:00 am
                  good article
                  • yoThursday, December 15, 2011 at 4:39 am
                    yo guys! whats up
                    • needWednesday, December 14, 2011 at 2:14 pm
                      i like it but i think it should be longer so students can use it for current events

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