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Waste water electrolysis

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Technology Description

Electrolysis uses electricity to split water into its basic components (H2 and O2). Wastewater as novel feedstock for hydrogen production by electrolysis can be classified according to its physicochemical properties and composition before entering the electrolysis cell:
- Pre-treated wastewater (that is, purified and demineralized) to achieve the required properties, for example, ionic conductivity < 5 microS/cm to feed conventional electrolyzers (e.g., AEL or PEMEL).
- Non-pretreated wastewater to feed Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MEC). MEC technology was developed at laboratory scale in by Bruce E. Logan and Cees J.N. Buisman to produce hydrogen in 2005. In a MEC, organic matter is oxidized at the anode via exoelectrogens and hydrogen is produced at the cathode, under the action of an electrical voltage or current.

Relevance for Net Zero

Waste water electrolysis is at very early stages of development and will present lower efficiencies and higher operational costs than other electrolysis technologies. However, it can facilitate hydrogen generation in high water-stress areas limiting the consumption of freshwater.

Key Countries

Oman, Spain

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