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Biosolids used to make hydrogen

A new technology has allowed researchers to upcycle biosolids and biogas to produce hydrogen from wastewater.

Developed by RMIT University researchers, the patented technology uses a material derived from biosolids to spark chemical reactions for producing hydrogen from biogas.

This approach means all materials needed for hydrogen production can be sourced onsite at a wastewater treatment plant, negating the need for expensive methods. 

By using the patented technology, the carbon found in biosolids and biogas is trapped, which researchers said could enable a near zero-emission wastewater sector in the future.

Lead Researcher and Associate Professor Kalpit Shah said existing commercial methods for producing hydrogen were emission intensive, costly and relied heavily on natural gas.

“Our alternative technology offers a sustainable, cost-effective, renewable and efficient approach to hydrogen production,” said Mr Shah.

“To enable the transition to a circular economy, we need technology that enables us to squeeze the full value from resources that would ordinarily go to waste.

“Our new technology for making hydrogen relies on waste materials that are essentially in unlimited supply. 

“By harnessing the power of biosolids to produce a fully clean fuel from biogas – while simultaneously preventing greenhouse gas emissions – we can deliver a true environmental and economic win.” 

The method, which was published in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, sees biosolids first converted to biochar that contains some heavy metals, making it an ideal catalyst for producing hydrogen out of biogas.

The research was supported by South East Water, who will trial the biosolids and biogas conversion technology in a pilot plant.

For more information visit the RMIT University website.

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