New Project Can Produce Hydrogen Out Of Sewage Sludge

New Project Can Produce Hydrogen Out Of Sewage Sludge - Carbon Herald
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Sewage sludge can now be converted into hydrogen. A new project by Aston University has been awarded an investment by The Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat) to develop a trial rig to transform sewage sludge into clean water and energy (hydrogen and/or methane). The gasses can then be used to power people’s homes.

Aston University will be working with two industrial partners – engineering consultancy company ICMEA-UK Limited and sustainable infrastructure company Costain to develop the project. Dr Jude Onwudili from Aston University’s Energy and Bioproducts Research Institute (EBRI) is leading the team of scientists who will work with the partners to develop the trial rig.

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The project is called REvAR (Renewable Energy via Aqueous-phase Reforming), and combines the use of hot-pressurized water or hydrothermal conditions with catalysts to achieve high conversion efficiency. The technique could treat sewage sludge in just minutes, and could potentially replace existing processes. 

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The technology takes contaminated wastewater and extracts the energy content of the organic matter (suspended solids) in the water. The outputs are cleaner water and energy that could run the wastewater process with a significant energy surplus.

The goal of the technology is also to replace existing biological processing of wastewater streams in the water industry that currently consumes 1-2% of UK electricity.

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“This project is important because millions of tonnes of sewage sludge are generated in the UK each year and the water industry is struggling with how to effectively manage them as waste… Instead, they can be converted into valuable feedstocks which are used for producing renewable fuel gasses, thereby increasing the availability of feedstocks to meet UK decarbonisation targets through bioenergy,” commented Dr Onwudili.

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