Researchers from the Department of Environmental and Chemical Engineering at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a new technology that will produce electricity from wastewater and treat it at the same time. This technology constitutes a quantum leap in terms of electricity production, and this system depends on wastewater treatment, as it produces electricity During filtration of water.
According to the Washington University, St. Louis website, researchers in the new system used two technologies to filter water and produce electricity to work together in one technology.
The research team integrated a microbial electrochemical water filtration system, with an electrode that passes through an electric current called an anode and bacteria that can survive in an electric current environment.
The researchers designed the anode from a dynamic membrane of conductive carbon cloth to act as a water filter, since when wastewater is pumped into the anode, the bacteria eat the organic material, release electrons, and generate electricity.
The two systems work simultaneously, with bacteria and membranes filtering 80% to 90% of the organic matter, leaving the water clean enough to be released into nature, or for further treatment of non-potable water uses.
Zain Jason Hu, the principal investigator of the study, explained that the amount of electricity generated is not sufficient to supply a city with energy, but sufficient to supply the energy-water treatment plant, adding: In the United States, about 3% to 5% of the electricity is used for water and sanitation activities. He suggested that his system could reduce this energy consumption drastically.
He revealed that the main goal of the technology is not to produce electricity, but to treat sewage water and restore nutrients, indicating that bacteria can convert those organic materials into usable things, such as recovering nitrogen or phosphorous and using them in making fertilizers and feeding plants.
Biogas and bioelectricity can also be recovered from wastewater.
There are many ways to use bacteria to produce energy from wastewater, but they often do so without filtering the water for non-potable water purposes such as irrigation.