Solar-Powered Electrochemical Reaction Uses Wastewater To Make the World’s No. 2 Chemical

UIC researchers are creating a sustainable electrochemical system installed in a well where solar cells hold solutions. When charged, nitrates from wastewater in solution are converted to ammonia. Credit: Meenesh Singh / UIC

UIC engineers convert nitrates to ammonia in a highly efficient, sustainable electrochemical reaction from the sun to fuel.

Engineers at the University of Illinois at Chicago not only use wastewater to produce ammonia, the world’s second-highest-producing chemical, but they are also 10 times more efficient from the sun to fuel. Produced a chemical reaction. Other equivalent technologies.

Their findings are published in Energy and environmental science, A top journal for research at the intersection of energy supply and environmental protection.

“This technology and our method have great potential to enable on-demand synthesis of fertilizers, reducing greenhouse gases from the agricultural and energy sectors of developed and developing countries, and fossil fuels. It can have an immeasurable impact on our efforts, “says Senior Researcher. Mineshsin, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering at UIC College of Engineering.

Ammonia, one nitrogen combination atom And the three hydrogen atoms are important compounds in fertilizers and many manufactured products such as plastics and pharmaceuticals. Current methods of making ammonia from nitrogen require the enormous amount of heat generated by burning fossil fuels to break the strong bonds between nitrogen atoms and allow them to bond to hydrogen. This 100-year-old process produces a significant portion of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, which are the driving force of climate change.

Previously, Shin and his colleague Developed an eco-friendly way to make ammonia By filtering pure nitrogen gas through a mesh screen covered with a charged catalyst in an aqueous solution. The reaction used a small amount of fossil fuel energy to charge the screen and decompose nitrogen atoms, producing more hydrogen gas (80%) than ammonia (20%).

Now, researchers have improved this concept and developed a new way to charge the reaction by supplying nitrogen and sunlight using nitrate, one of the most common groundwater pollutants. This system produces almost 100% ammonia with almost zero side reactions of hydrogen gas. This reaction does not require fossil fuels and does not produce carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases. With solar power, you also get an unprecedented 11% solar-to-fuel efficiency (STF). This is 10 times better than any other condition. -A state-of-the-art system that produces ammonia (about 1% STF).

The new method relies on cobalt catalysts. This is explained by researchers along with a new process in the treatise “Solar-driven electrochemical synthesis of ammonia using nitrates with 11% solar-to-fuel efficiency in ambient conditions.” Energy and environmental science..

To identify catalysts, researchers first applied theory of computation to predict which metals would work best. After identifying cobalt through these models, the team experimented with metals and tried various methods to optimize the activity of cobalt in the reaction. Researchers have found that the rough cobalt surface derived from oxidation is most effective in creating selective reactions. That is, it converted almost all nitrate molecules to ammonia.

“Finding active, selective, and stable catalysts that work in PV systems is strong evidence that sustainable synthesis of ammonia on an industrial scale is possible,” Shin said. Stated.

Not only is the reaction itself carbon-neutral, it is also environmentally friendly, but it can also have a nearly net negative healing effect on the environment if the system is developed for industrial use.

“The use of nitrate wastewater also means that pollutants need to be removed from surface and groundwater. Over time, this can be especially economically detrimental or excessive nitrate. This means that in rural areas where high exposure to high exposure can be the greatest risk, processes can simultaneously help correct industrial waste and runoff and readjust the nitrogen cycle. ” Said Shin.

High exposure to nitrates through drinking water is associated with health conditions such as cancer, thyroid disease, preterm birth, and low birth weight.

“We are all very excited about this achievement. We will not stop here. We hope that we will soon have a larger prototype and will be able to test it on a larger scale,” he said. Singh, who is working with local governments and wastewater treatment centers to further develop the system, said.

See also: “Solar Driven Electrochemical Synthesis of Ammonia Using Nitrate” by Nishithan C. Kani, Joseph A. Gauthier, Aditya Prajapati, Jane Edgington, Isha Bordawekar, Windom Shields, Mitchell Shields, Linsey C. Seitz, Aayush R. Singh, Meenesh R. Singh, September 7, 2021 Energy and environmental science..
DOI: 10.1039 / D1EE01879E

A patent for the new process was filed by the UIC Technical Management Office.

The co-authors of this treatise are Nishithan Kani and Aditya Parajapati of UIC, Joseph Gauthier of Texas Tech University, Jane Edgington and Linsey Seitz. Northwestern University, Isha Bordawekar of Warren Township High School, Windom Shields and Mitchell Shields of Worldwide Liquid Sunshine, and Aayush Singh of Dow Inc.

Solar-Powered Electrochemical Reaction Uses Wastewater To Make the World’s No. 2 Chemical Source link Solar-Powered Electrochemical Reaction Uses Wastewater To Make the World’s No. 2 Chemical

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