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Scientists Say Sewage Can Produce Cheap Hydrogen

sewage treatment

Researchers at Oregon State University have made game-changing discovery in the field of hydrogen fuel cell production. They believe that biowaste— such as simple municipal sewage—can produce hydrogen at a lower cost than traditional electrolysis technology.

Oregon State’s system works by attaching microorganisms from sewage to an anode’s surface and degrading the waste in the sewage using a battery-like device. The waste then decomposes and leaves protons that move to the cathode, combine with electrons, and ultimately create hydrogen.

The new approach could reduce the amount of energy needed for hydrogen production— and help hydrogen reach the US Department of Energy cost goal of $2 to $3 per gallon.

And as if that wasn’t enough, the hydrogen system also cleans the sewage water it uses, provoking speculation that perhaps sewage will one day be a valued commodity instead of a smelly nuisance.


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Written By

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.


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