Russian scientists have received electricity from waste paper

Every resident of the developed countries the average daily produces 1.5-2 kilograms garbage, 60% of which are paper, food waste and other organic matter. Therefore the question of disposal of these wastes is becoming more acute. Recycling to Biogas (Hydrogen with some impurities) would seem to solve the problem and at the same time opens up new opportunities for alternative energy. But, as is often the case in the way of a beautiful energy-saving ideas arise dozens of scientific and economic barriers, attracting research groups around the world. Interesting work in this area has recently published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy and a group of Russian scientists Moscow State University. MV Lomonosov and Institute of Basic Biological Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences. Researchers have constructed a bioreactor combines the bacterial environment, producing hydrogen from waste paper, and a fuel cell that converts hydrogen into electricity this.

In 1945, the State of New York voted for the mandatory installation of incinerators in every home that has more than four apartments. By the time this simple technology has already been successfully tested in Europe and many other U.S. cities. But the global proliferation of plastics and various electronics old method becomes irrelevant. Fell efficiency required additional sorting of waste, environmentalists have pointed to the many impurities of heavy metals and other toxic substances in a public fuel. Experiencing similar problems and hydrogen energy. Amazingly simple idea — to collect and burn the hydrogen produced by anaerobic bacteria colonies with the consumption of organic waste — has not yet found widespread use.

For example, together with hydrogen is released and a large amount of harmful hydrogen sulfide and carbon dioxide. Over time, the concentration of biogas becomes too great, and that does reduce the rate of release of biogas. It turns out that hydrogen must be continuously isolated and separated from the reaction mixture. But then there are some problems with its transportation and storage. Therefore, the optimal solution can be instantaneous processing of hydrogen into energy.

It is this idea and used the research group led by Alexander Netrusov. Thus for energy are used fuel element — an electrochemical device in which the energy released by the oxidation of fuel. Typically, a fuel cell consists of two electrodes. At the cathode, molecular hydrogen fuel splits into protons and electrons. Last trapped special membranes and transferred to the external circuit and the protons reach the catalyst of the anode and there is connected to the electrons. As a result of the electrochemical reaction produces only water perfectly harmless product.

Typically, in the fuel cell using platinum electrodes. However, the platinum is poisoned by the very undesirable components biogas and also has a high cost. Therefore, as part of its fuel cell Russian researchers used electrodes on the basis of the enzyme hydrogenase (from microorganisms Thiocapsa roseopersicina), Which allows bacteria to absorb and recycle hydrogen. Polymer membrane the fuel cell was made of Nafion, and he was immersed in the medium with anaerobic heterotrophic bacteria that produce hydrogen.

The fuel was a pure cellulose or various paper waste. As a result, the maximum output power of the bioreactor was 200 mW / cm2. In this case, it is achieved at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius, ensuring an appropriate balance between stability and activity of the electrodes, and after 50 hours of work required for the activation of the enzymatic reaction. Particular attention is paid to the analysis of the stability of the researchers Electrode based hydrogenase they monitored for 80 hours. First, immediately after loading the raw materials, activity of the electrode increases sharply due appearing excess hydrogen, and after 10 hours falls to a stable value of 70%. Among the main reasons for this decline are called partial podmyta enzyme electrode impregnation under the influence of the bacterial environment, as well as the fall in pH. The latter, according to scientists, it is easy to fix and thus improve the stability and low power while the experimental system.

In any case, the fact of the successful combination of the bacterial environment and the fuel cell composed of one reactor can already be considered a great achievement. Because the resulting system can successfully without degradation of the properties of a variety of types of processing organic waste into electrical energy.

The study was conducted with the financial support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Russian Federation (state contract № 16.516.11.6013).

Source of information:

OG Voronin, AI Shestakov, ER Sadraddinova, SM Abramov, AI Netrusov, NA Zorin, AA Karyakin, Bioconversion of the cellulose containing waste into electricity through the intermediate hydrogen production. International Journal of hydrogen energy, 37 (2012), 10585-10589.

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