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Penn State researchers are investigating a way to make hydrogen fuel out of waste.
Penn State University researchers have significantly enhanced an experimental “microbial electrolysis cell” technology. This type of cell uses specific varieties of bacteria to breakdown organic matter, which creates hydrogen as a byproduct. The researchers hope to use the hydrogen gas as a fuel source, a new process called “electrohydrogenesis.”
The most likely sources for this process will be wastewater and the leaves and stalks of corn. In the case of wastewater, the entire process could occur while the water was being treated, speeding up the process.
The efficiency of the process is impressive. “This process produces 288% more energy in hydrogen thant the electrical energy that [triggers] the process,” said Professor Bruce Logan of Penn State. Additionally, the “efficient and sustainable hydrogen production is possible from any type of biodegradable organic matter.”
Although the infrastructure needed to run this process will probably not experience large-scale construction in the next twenty years, steps have been taken toward that end recently. Most likely, the process will be implemented on farms and in wastewater treatment plants.