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University of South Wales Arnaud

The University of South Wales (USW) is a modern, industry-focused university that seeks to broaden students’ horizons, preparing them for their chosen career. Campuses are located across the region in Cardiff, Newport and Pontypridd, as well as a brand-new campus in Dubai. The university offers a full range of qualifications, from further education to degree-level and PhD study.

OxyHyH20 : Integration of Electrolytic O2 for Reduced Emissions and Optimisation of Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations.

  1. • The development of the hydrogen economy will include a substantial amount of hydrogen production via water electrolysis from renewable electricity which will also result in large quantities of co-produced oxygen.
  2. • Treatment of sewage in large wastewater treatment plant generally involve activated sludge: an aerobic process using microorganisms to degrade pollutants. Oxygen is provided to bacteria by the delivery of air through energy intensive systems. In addition to large energy consumption, this process generates a significant volume of sludge that must be treated, transported, and disposed, which contributes to additional GHGs emissions.
  3. • The OxyHyH2O project aims to provide an alternative strategy using oxygen gas from the electrolysis of water, a by-product of the renewable production of hydrogen.
Integration of water electrolysis in wastewater treatment plant schematic
Hydrogen could be used as a carbon-free fuel for transport.
Can we reduce emissions while providing better treatment efficiency with water electrolysis ?
Using co-produced O2 which is generally wasted, would improve electrolysis economical viability.
  1. · It is proposed to use hydrogen as a carbon-free fuel for transport or heating applications, while the co-produced oxygen could be employed for treatment basin aeration.
  2. · It is considered that for a specific system and set of conditions, using pure oxygen facilitates dissolving approximately 4-5 times more oxygen than a standard air system could achieve
  3. · In addition to significant energy saving and reduced carbon emissions, the use of pure oxygen allows operation at higher dissolved oxygen which could provide considerable advantages: Such as increased biological activity, reduced odours, nitrous oxide emissions and sludge production.

Research Plan

Design of a pure oxygen laboratory scale membrane bioreactor.
  • In order to investigate the effect of pure oxygen aeration on treatment efficiency, a laboratory scale membrane bioreactor is currently being built. It will consist in a 4-litre bioreactor operated continuously, including a submerged micro-filtration membrane to separate the microorganisms from the treated effluent. As proof of concept, the oxygen required will be provided through the mean of PEM electrolyser.
  • The reactor will be operated under a range of dissolved oxygen level (2-8 mg/L) to investigate the effect of higher oxygen concentration on wastewater treatment.
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