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SCHIEDAM, Netherlands

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ENV.2011.3.1.9-1 | Award Amount: 4.21M | Year: 2012

Global primary metal resources are rapidly dwindling and the mining and metallurgical industries are increasingly turning to lower grade minerals for metal extraction, typically increasing costs. Innovative environmental metal extraction techniques are required to increase mining sustainability, increase revenues and lower its impact on the environment. In this project, bioelectrochemical technology is proposed as an entirely new method for metal processing with the aim to produce marketable metal-containing (intermediate) products with low environmental impact compared to state-of-the art technologies. In bioelectrochemical technology, microorganisms catalyse the reaction occurring on one or both electrodes of an electrolytic cell. Such cells are called Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) when power is produced and Microbial Electrolysis Cells (MECs) when power is required to drive the desired reaction. Recently, it has been shown that Cu2\ is reduced to metallic copper on the cathode of a MFC coupled to the biological oxidation of organic matter and with resulting electricity generation. The proof-of-principle MFC almost completely recovered the Cu2\ in its metallic form (decrease in concentration from 1 g/L to < 1 mg/L) and produced a maximum power density of 0.8 W/m2. Bioelectrochemical technology can be used for the base metals copper, nickel, iron, zinc, cobalt and lead, which are mined, processed and used in large quantities. These metals are ubiquitous in process- and waste streams from the mining and metallurgical industry and therefore application of bioelectrochemistry for these metals has a high impact. Compared to traditional techniques, the use of Bioelectrochemical technology allows high recovery efficiencies, increased metal selectivity and reduced use of energy with in some cases (e.g. copper reduction) electricity production.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-1 | Award Amount: 1.17M | Year: 2010

Waste disposed of in landfill sites degrades over time and produces a liquid waste stream called landfill leachate. The volume of leachate produced is increased by rainfall. It cannot be directly discharged to water courses as it contains many hazardous pollutants and therefore must be retained for treatment. This proposal contains details of the approach we will take to develop an automated, modular, mobile leachate treatment system. The treatment will be carried out directly in an advanced oxidation process that uses reactions at both the anode and the cathode of a new form of electrolytic cell that we will develop. Whilst current treatment methods can be expensive to install and maintain, may involve the use of chemicals and require permanent positioning at the landfill site, our apparatus will allow new treatment strategies to be used by the landfill operators. The automated, mobile system will offer a flexibility of operation that is not currently available. Cost savings will be made due to the reduced treatment time of our system, using reactions at the anode and cathode rather than the anode only. Additional savings can be made by the use of renewable energy to power the process. Electricity is the only resource required, hence wind or photovoltaic generation of power would allow operating costs to be minimised. With over 150,000 landfill sites across Europe, and an estimated annual spend of 10-17 billion on leachate treatment, there is already a large market available. It is expected that leachate treatment will become a bigger industry as environmental Directives, aimed at improving the quality of EU water, are implemented. Landfill leachate producers will not be the only waste stream producers that could benefit from our apparatus. Other industries such as food production, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals will also be able to see financial and environmental benefits of treating their waste streams using technology developed in the CleanLeachate project

Agency: GTR | Branch: EPSRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 1.92M | Year: 2016

The current fuel production and related industries are still heavily reliant on fossil fuels. BPs Statistical Review of World Energy published in 2014 states that the world has in reserves 892 billion tonnes of coal, 186 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, and 1688 billion barrels of crude oil. Although these represent huge reserves, taking into account todays level of extraction, would mean that coal would be exhausted in 113 years and natural gas and crude oil would be extracted by 2069 and 2067, respectively. In the meanwhile, the CO2 atmospheric concentration has increased from 270 ppm before the industrial revolution to 400 ppm today and its annual release is predicted to exceed 40GT/year by 2030. As the world population increases, breakthrough technologies tackling both fuel supply and carbon emission challenges are needed. The use of CO2 from, or captured in industrial processes, as a direct feedstock for chemical fuel production, are crucial for reducing green house gas emission and for sustainable fuel production with the existing resources. The aim of this project is to develop a breakthrough technology with integrated low cost bio-electrochemical processes to convert CO2 into liquid fuels for transportations, energy storage, heating and other applications. CO2 is firstly electrochemically reduced to formate with the electric energy from biomass and various wastes and other renewable sources by Bioelectrochemical systems (BES). The product then goes through a biotransformation SimCell reactor with microorganisms (Ralstonia) specialised in converting formate to medium chain alkanes using a Synthetic biology approach. The proposed technology will develop around the existing wastewater treatment facilities from for example, petroleum refineries and water industries, utilising the carbon source in wastewater, thus minimising the requirement to transport materials and use additional land. To tackle the grand challenges, a multidisciplinary team of five universities will work together to develop this groundbreaking technology. Our research targets two specific aspects on renewable low carbon fuel generation: 1) Use of biomass and wastewater as a source of energy and reducing power to synthesise chemicals from CO2. 2) Interface electrochemical and biological processes to achieve chemical energy-to-fuels transformation. To achieve the goal of this project, there are three major research challenges we need to tackle: 1. How to maximise the power output and energy from wastewater with Bioelectrochemical systems? 2. How to achieve CO2 conversion to medium chain alkanes through reduction to formate in Microbial electrolysis cells, and then SimCells? 3. Can we develop a viable, integrated, efficient and economic system combining bio-electrochemical and biological processes for sustainable liquid fuel production? To tackle these challenges, we need to maximise energy output from wastewater by using novel 3-D materials, to apply highly active electrochemical catalysts for CO2 reduction, to improve efficiency of SimCell reactor, and to integrate both processes and design a new system to convert CO2 to medium chain alkanes with high efficiency. In this study, rigorous LCA will be carried out to identify the optimum pathways for liquid biofuel production. We will also look at the policies on low carbon fuel production and explore the ways to influence low carbon fuel policies. Through the development of this innovative technology, we will bring positive impact on the UKs target for reducing CO2 emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy.

Within NovEED we will investigate, develop and demonstrate a novel electrocatalytic process based on electrodialysis for the efficient recovery of acids and bases from salt solutions normally discharged at cost. This process is demanded by industrial users of acids and bases, e.g. galvanic industry, metal plating and mining industries, who will be able to regenerate their neutralized solutions to recover fresh acids and bases from their waste rather than through purchase. Through development of a new stack design, process layout and metal foam electrodes with high surface area, plus the inclusion of catalytic coatings, the consortium will demonstrate a process that does not release any gases, unlike SoA electrodialysis processes. With this advantage the NovEED device will avoid all efficiency losses that make SoA processes using external fuel cells expensive and maintenance prone. NovEED will reduce the energy consumption of the electrodialysis process due to the introduction of electrocatalysis to react oxygen generated in the anode to produce water in the cathode. In recovery of sodium hydroxide and sulphuric acid this reaction will result in an energy saving of approximately 800 kWh per tonne of each chemical compared to a SoA three membrane ED stack with bipolar membranes. Efficiency will be 80% or more compared to a maximum 50% in SoA applications. We have identified that a market opportunity exists for a cost efficient electrodialysis device that enables industries to recycle used acids and bases to save money and be more environmental friendly. Additionally, the transport and storage of aggressive acids and bases will be decreased making both our streets and industrial areas safer. We anticipate there will be high uptake of this environmentally beneficial new system in industry as it requires no additional effort, and a small initial investment, to achieve significant savings after only 1 years of operation.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: BSG-SME | Phase: SME-2013-1 | Award Amount: 1.49M | Year: 2013

Current costs for industrial wastewater treatment in Europe are already an economic burden and are expected to rise. With 4.5 billion Euros spent each year this is restricting the growth of the European production sector, especially in water scarce areas where there is a pressing need to reuse water. OxFloc aims to reduce treatment costs by at least 30% while offering modular installation and application engineering at a price below comparable State-of-Art processes. OxFloc systems will have a quantified superior environmental benefit, a smaller plant footprint, lower operation costs and enable 100% water recycling as they work without salt-carrying chemicals. Not all industrial wastewaters are the same, but many carry a mix of toxic chemicals, non-biodegradable components and hormones e.g. tenside, flame resistants, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and heavy metals. Therefore, industrial effluents need significant treatment before they can be discharged to a municipal waste water treatment plant. Typically the pollutants exist with suspended particles, requiring a clearing pretreatment which increases cost and energy consumption of current treatments. Our system solves this problem by combining particle removal and adsorption with advanced oxidation. Our OxFloc system is a one-stage combined flocculation-oxidation process that needs no chemicals because electrolytic production of the iron catalyst, as well as hydrogen peroxide, takes place in the reactor itself. It is an integrated system capable of degrading and removing both dissolved and suspended harmful substances from industrial wastewaters using only electrical energy. It will be fully compatible with power from renewable energy sources, conventional supply or from smart power grids balancing demand and offer of electrical energy. It can be utilised by over 265,000 SME-businesses in Europe for water treatment and recovery making them more sustainable and competitive.

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