Biofuel researchers are constantly working to develop a self-sustaining technique for converting renewable carbon sources into fuels, while excluding carbon from our environment and water. Despite significant progress, completing the cycle with clean energy proved difficult. Now a team of researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) of the Ministry of Energy has developed a system that does just that. The PNNL electrocatalytic oxidation fuel regeneration system converts dilute waste carbon into valuable compounds while producing usable hydrogen that was previously thought to be non-recoverable. The procedure is carbon-neutral or even carbon-negative, as renewable energy is used.

The elegantly designed catalyst combines billions of infinitesimal metal particles and electric current to accelerate the conversion of energy at room temperature and pressure.

Juan A. Lopez-Ruiz, PNNL chemical engineer and project manager, said that current methods of treating bio-raw materials require the use of high-pressure hydrogen, which is usually generated from natural gas. This system can generate hydrogen while purifying wastewater at near-atmospheric temperatures, using excess renewable energy, making it cheap to operate and potentially carbon-neutral.

The research team tested the system in the laboratory using a sample of wastewater from a biomass conversion process on an industrial scale for over 200 hours of continuous operation without loss of efficiency. The only limitation was that the wastewater sample of the research team was exhausted.

The patented system, according to Lopez-Ruiz, solves several problems that are hampering efforts to make biomass an economically viable source of renewable energy.

Lopez-Ruiz said that although people understand how to convert biomass into fuel, they continue to struggle to make the process energy efficient, cost-effective and environmentally sustainable, especially on a small, distributed scale. However, this new system is powered by electricity that can be generated from renewable sources. It also produces its own heat and fuel to keep running. He may be able to complete the energy recovery cycle.

Clean Sustainable Electrochemical Treatment — or CleanSET — technology is available for licensing from other companies or municipalities interested in developing industry-specific applications in municipal wastewater treatment plants, dairy farms, breweries, chemical manufacturers, and food manufacturers. and drinks.


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