Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) say that creating hydrogen from sewage may hit the Department of Energy’s (DOE) target of $2 to $3 per gallon equivalent of gasoline. And, this is only one benefit of the Oregon researchers’ plan.
In addition to creating hydrogen cheaply at waste treatment plants, the system developed will also produce clean water as well. Now, I’ve talked before about Toronto researchers creating hydrogen from biowaste at sewage treatment plants by introducing dried sludge pellets.
But, the OSU researchers have a different take on how to create hydrogen from biowaste. Their method is 75-percent more efficient that traditional electrolysis of water. According to OSU, “All of this was achieved through fundamental research on ‘microbial electrolysis cells,’ or MECs, that use a new ‘membrane free’ approach that costs less and is significantly more efficient than existing approaches.”
Many types of biowaste could be used in this process including food processing factory waste, woody waste, and manure from farm animals. Biowaste is fed into this device and what is output is clean water, electricity and hydrogen, all valuable commodities that may be sold on the open market.
Self sustaining sewage treatment plants may no longer be a drain on a city or county budget, but rather a revenue generator and a supplier of hydrogen to power our cars and stationary home fuel cells. What starts as waste in the home and on the farm my recycle itself back in the form of hydrogen. And, as hydrogen is expelled from the fuel cell vehicles as water and steam, this will also recycle itself back into the home and onto the farm as well.