Navigation Links
Unique salt allows energy production to move inland

Production of energy from the difference between salt water and fresh water is most convenient near the oceans, but now, using an ammonium bicarbonate salt solution, Penn State researchers can combine bacterial degradation of waste water with energy extracted from the salt-water fresh-water gradient to produce power anywhere.

"We are taking two technologies, each having limitations, and putting them together," said Bruce E. Logan, Kappe Professor of Environmental Engineering. "Combined, they overcome the limitations of the individual technologies."

The technologies Logan refers to are microbial fuel cells (MFC)-- which use wastewater and naturally occurring bacteria to produce electricity -- and reverse electrodialysis (RED) -- which produces electricity directly from the salinity gradient between salty and fresh water. The combined technology creates a microbial reverse-electrodialysis cell (MRC). The researchers describe MRCs in today's (March 1) edition of Science Express.

RED stacks extract energy from the ionic difference between fresh water and salt water. A stack consists of alternating ion exchange membranes -- positive and negative -- with each RED membrane pair contributing additively to the electrical output. Unfortunately, using only RED stacks to produce electricity is difficult because a large number of membranes is required when using water at the electrodes, due to the need for water electrolysis.

Using exoelectrogenic bacteria -- bacteria found in wastewater that consume organic material and produce an electric current -- reduces the number of stacks needed and increases electric production by the bacteria.

Logan, working with Roland Cusick, graduate student in environmental engineering, and postdoctoral fellow Younggy Kim, placed a RED stack between the electrodes of an MFC to form the MRC.

While the researchers previously showed that an MRC can work with natural seawater, the organic matter in water will foul the membranes without extensive precleaning and treatment of the water. Seawater use restricts MRC operation to coastal areas, but food waste, domestic waste and animal waste contain about 17 gigawatts of power throughout the U.S. One nuclear reactor typically produces 1 gigawatt.

Rather than rely on seawater, the researchers used ammonium bicarbonate, an unusual salt. An ammonium bicarbonate solution works similarly to seawater in the MRC and will not foul the membranes. The ammonium bicarbonate is also easily removed from the water above 110 degrees Fahrenheit. The ammonia and carbon dioxide that make up the salt boil out, and are recaptured and recombined for reuse.

"Waste heat makes up 7 to 17 percent of energy consumed in industrial processes," said Logan. "There is always a source of waste heat near where this process could take place and it usually goes unused."

The researchers tested their ammonium bicarbonate MRC and found that the initial production of electricity was greater than that from an MRC using seawater.

"The bacteria in the cell quickly used up all the dissolved organic material," said Logan. "This is the portion of wastewater that is usually the most difficult to remove and requires trickling filters, while the particulate portion which took longer for the bacteria to consume, is more easily removed."

The researchers tested the MRC only in a fill and empty mode, but eventually a stream of wastewater would be run through the cell. According to Logan, MRCs can be configured to produce electricity or hydrogen, making both without contributing to greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. The MRC tested produced 5.6 watts per square meter.

Logan also notes that not having to process wastewater would save about 60 gigawatts.


Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer
Penn State

Related biology technology :

1. ZyGEM to Provide its Unique DNA and RNA Extraction Technology to Middle East Biomedical Innovator Saudi Diagnostics Ltd.
2. Launched, a Unique Life Science Business Networking Site
3. Waters New Biopharmaceutical System Solution Uniquely Unites UPLC/MS Analyses and Workflows Driven by Industry First Scientific Information System
4. Prince of Wales Hospital in Hong Kong First in Asia to Offer Cancer Patients Image-Guided RapidArc® Radiotherapy Using the UNIQUE™ Radiotherapy System
5. The Israeli Governments Ministry of Health Invites Medisafe 1 Technologies to Demonstrate its Unique Syringe Locking Device Technology
6. Unique Natural Products Facility Opens on A-B Tech Campus
7. New Data Show Rubicons Unique Amplification Technology Enables Genetic And Epigenetic Analyses of Single Cells Using Next-Generation Sequencing
8. Graphene 2.0: A new approach to making a unique material
9. Glycosan BioSystems Seeks CE Mark in the European Union for HyStem-Rx, a Unique, Implantable Scaffold for Tissue Engineering
10. Unique close-up of the dynamics of photosynthesis
11. Qteros and UMass Amherst Announce the Issuance of a U.S. Patent for Production of Ethanol From a Unique Microorganism, the Q Microbe(TM)
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Unique salt allows energy production to move inland
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June, 23, 2016  The Biodesign Challenge ... envision new ways to harness living systems and biotechnology, ... Art (MoMA) in New York City ... 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s Celeste Bartos ... Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of architecture and ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... In a new case report published today ... a patient who developed lymphedema after being treated for breast cancer benefitted from an ... paradigm for dealing with this debilitating, frequent side effect of cancer treatment. ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- On Wednesday, June 22, 2016, the NASDAQ ... Dow Jones Industrial Average edged 0.27% lower to finish at ... has initiated coverage on the following equities: Infinity Pharmaceuticals ... NKTR ), Aralez Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NASDAQ: ARLZ ... Learn more about these stocks by accessing their free trade ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 22, 2016  Amgen (NASDAQ: ... the QB3@953 life sciences incubator to accelerate ... The shared laboratory space at QB3@953 was created to ... key obstacle for many early stage organizations - access ... the sponsorship, Amgen launched two "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, ...
Breaking Biology Technology:
(Date:6/7/2016)... -- Syngrafii Inc. and San Antonio Credit Union (SACU) ... Syngrafii,s patented LongPen™ eSignature "Wet" solution into SACU,s ... in greater convenience for SACU members and operational ... document workflow and compliance requirements. Logo ... Highlights: ...
(Date:6/1/2016)... NEW YORK , June 1, 2016 ... Biometric Technology in Election Administration and Criminal Identification to ... According to a recently released TechSci Research report, " ... Sector, By Region, Competition Forecast and Opportunities, 2011 - ... $ 24.8 billion by 2021, on account of growing ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... Elevay is currently known as ... for high net worth professionals seeking travel for work ... world, there is still no substitute for a face-to-face ... your deal with a firm handshake. This is why ... of citizenship via investment programs like those offered by ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):