A new microbial- and solar-catalyzed process produces hydrogen while simultaneously treating industrial wastewater. The photocatalytic process was applied to brewery Hydrogen bubbles up through a specially designed chamber. Source: Princeton UniversityHydrogen bubbles up through a specially designed chamber. Source: Princeton Universitywastewater and generated hydrogen at twice the accepted rate for scalable water-splitting technologies.

Water splitting and hydrogen production occur in a chamber housing bioanodes and a black silicon photocathode sporting numerous holes. The bacteria generate an electrical current, which serves to boost solar hydrogen production, as wastewater organics are consumed. The experiment generated a record photocurrent of up to 23 mA/cm2 and retained prolonged stability for over 90 hours with a Faradaic efficiency of 96% to 99%.

As the chamber used to capture hydrogen is modular, several can be stacked to treat more wastewater and yield more hydrogen in a scalable manner. The process also eliminates reliance on fossil fuels for generation of industrially valuable hydrogen.

The system was devised by researchers from Princeton University, San Diego State University, University of Colorado, Idaho National Laboratory and National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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