NUS Researchers Develop Electricity-based Wastewater Recycling Method

The new electrochemical process eliminates 99% of harmful organic compounds

New development in wastewater treatment

Scientists at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have created a new wastewater treatment process utilizing electricity as the reagent for the purification process.

This new approach is able to effectively remove 99% of organic compounds commonly found in industrial wastewater that are ordinarily very difficult to treat, all without using a significant amount of electrical power or creating collateral waste that would require additional waste processing.

Assistant Professor Olivier Lefebvre from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at NUS Faculty of Engineering, the leader of the research team, says the invention “provides an environmentally-friendly solution and helps to raise the overall standard of industrial wastewater treatment.”

The system works by running an electric current through the wastewater in the chamber of the system apparatus. The electrodes then produce hydrogen peroxide and hydroxyl radical that begin to break down the organic compounds into progressively simpler molecules until they have all been degraded into water and carbon dioxide.

Because the new process is so efficient and eco-friendly, it also proposes an opportunity to cut costs of treating wastewater and has the potential to be implemented across a variety of industries. Beyond the obvious benefits for farmland, electronics and pharmaceutical industries, the researchers believe the new system could be useful to heavy manufacturing industries such as mining, oil and gas, and textiles.

“Our low-voltage electrochemical system can be installed in manufacturing plants of many different industries. The factories can easily reuse the treated water for their other processes and event control how pure the water is, according to their different needs,” said Assistant Professor Lefebvre.

Moving forward, Assistant Professor Lefebvre and his fellow researchers hope to further refine and optimize the efficiency of the system. They have applied for two patents regarding the technology used in the process and they hope to commercialise the technology in unison with industry partners.

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