September 29, 2009

Renewable hydrogen device created

Pennsylvania State University engineers say they have created a microbial electrolysis system that can produce hydrogen from wastewater.

The first demonstration of the device is underway at the Napa Wine Co. in Oakville, Calif. Researchers said their refrigerator-sized hydrogen generator will take winery wastewater, and using bacteria and a small amount of electrical energy, convert the organic material into hydrogen.

This is a demonstration to prove we can continuously generate renewable hydrogen and to study the engineering factors affecting the system performance, said Professor Bruce Logan. The hydrogen produced will be vented except for a small amount that will be used in a hydrogen fuel cell.

He said the wine company eventually wants to use the hydrogen to run vehicles and power systems.

The company's wastewater comes from cleaning equipment, grape disposal, wine making and other processes.

It is nice that Napa Wine Company offered up their winery and facilities to test this new approach, said Logan. We chose a winery because it is a natural tourist attraction. People go there all the time to experience wine making and wine, and now they can also see a demonstration of how to make clean hydrogen gas from agricultural wastes.