The California company HyperSolar is developing a way to produce renewable hydrogen and natural gas from wastewater using solar energy, and that could spell trouble for the fracking industry. In contrast to fracking, a method of natural gas drilling that can put communities and agricultural areas at risk for water contamination, HyperSolar’s new technology would do the reverse: it could provide communities with a financial offset to improve wastewater treatment operations that clean up polluted lands, and enable future growth without increased pollution. As a special bonus feature, the whole system is pretty much guaranteed to be earthquake-free.
From Wastewater to Renewable Gas
CleanTechnica covered HyperSolar late last year, when the company announced it was seeking a patent for a system that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen and methane gas from water. In its latest move, the company is one-upping itself by applying the system to wastewater rather than using pure water as a feedstock. HyperSolar has teamed up with Suncentrix to perform a feasibility study for using its renewable technology at California’s Salton Sea. The state’s largest lake, Salton Sea has become degraded with agricultural runoff, and its nutrient-rich waters would actually enable HyperSolar’s system to generate more renewable energy.
Low-Cost Wastewater Treatment for Cash-Strapped Communities
HyperSolar is also developing its technology for application to municipal and industrial wastewater, and that should really have the fossil fuel industry quaking in its boots, especially the natural gas industry. Fossil fuels by nature entwine pollution and environmental destruction with economic growth, and the end result is that in order to create new jobs communities are stuck with skyrocketing mitigation and remediation costs, particularly in the form of energy-sucking wastewater treatment plants. By enabling a means for adding value to wastewater in the form of renewable energy extraction, HyperSolar’s system could provide more local governments with the financial means to improve their wastewater treatment facilities and improve quality of life while creating new green jobs.
New Technology, New Green Energy
Medicine, communications, transportation and many other fields have made startling technological advances since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, yet the basic means of producing energy has barely changed since then. Only the renewable energy sector shows signs of shaking off the past. HyperSolar is just one example of a forward-thinking company that is mining wastewater for green gold through wastewater recovery operations and there is plenty more where that came from. Multi-faceted renewable energy systems like this are the wave of the future. The time is long past due for the energy industry to spark a revolution of its own.
Follow Tina Casey on Twitter: @TinaMCasey.
Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.