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New Photo-Catalytic Fuel Cell Can Both Clean Wastewater and Produce Electricity


People have so far created many water purifying devices and we always presented them here on The Green Optimistic. Now, Yanbiao Liu and his colleagues from Shanghai Jiao Tong University have created the photo-catalytic fuel cell, a new device capable of both cleaning wastewater and producing electricity from it.

The photo-catalytic fuel cell uses light as the energy source and is composed of a titanium dioxide nanotube-array anode and a cathode based on platinum. The concept is not very complicated but quite efficient: the process of degrading the organic material found in water will generate electrons which will pass through the cathode and then through the load.

Yanbiao Liu published his work in the Water Science & Technology magazine and he explained there the advantages of using such a photo-catalytic device. Analyzing the problem of where to put all the human waste in order to reduce pollution, Liu said that his device could solve the problem if used at a larger scale. The team tested the fuel cell’s efficiency in their lab and concluded that it is able to completely separate clear aromatics (perfumes), azo dyes and pharmaceuticals from the organic material thus producing clean water.

Moreover, if this technology will be used to purify water in remote places, people living there will benefit from the electricity that would be produced in the process.

Researchers haven’t yet estimated the costs for building such an electrical/wastewater treatment device but I think there is a good reason for keeping this information secret, since the device is still in its development stage. They replaced the electrodes with semiconductors (such as CdS) to allow the system to use visible and regular sunlight rather than UV, and I guess this would not be cheap.

Anyway, if the photo-catalytic fuel cell will help us to improve the environment we have to afford any costs to make it happen.

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