Harvesting Hydrogen and Graphite With Wastewater Technology

For many years, wastewater treatment has yielded many useful and sustainable products from fertilizer, biochar and biogas, just to name a few. Researchers from Western Australia (WA) have found even more uses that can be drawn from biosolids through wastewater technology.

The West Australian government is funding a project that aims to produce renewable hydrogen and graphite from wastewater technology. They have partnered with the state-owned Water Corporation and the Perth-based Hazer Group to help develop new innovations.

The Hazer Group will utilise biogas generated from the Woodman Point wastewater treatment plant in Munster to produce “low emissions” hydrogen and graphite, targeting a production rate of 100-tonnes a year of fuel-grade hydrogen and 380 tonnes of graphite annually for the next 3 years.

Biogas, which is primarily composed of methane and carbon dioxide, is produced from the breakdown of biosolids during wastewater treatment. This is where the wastewater technology will be focused on to extract the hydrogen and graphite.

Currently, biogas is mainly used for producing electricity that powers the plant, but the excess is usually burned off. The Hazer Group plans on maximizing the full potential of the biogas by producing valuable materials using an iron ore catalytic technology developed by the University of Western Australia.

“This will help decarbonise the Water Corporation’s operations to further support its sustainability objectives, while generating additional revenue and staff training opportunities,” said Dave Kelly, a minister for the Water Corporation.

The reason why the hydrogen and graphite by-products are important is because hydrogen can be used in a wide range of industrial and commercial uses, like vehicle fuel and chemical feedstock. Graphite is a key component in the production of lithium-ion batteries, water purification and advanced materials.

Hydrogen is an increasingly important renewable fuel source, and this technology will showcase Western Australia’s capability in the commercial hydrogen industry, according to regional development Minister Alannah MacTiernan.

“This initiative represents an important first step towards kick-starting renewable hydrogen production capacity and driving the use of zero-emissions transport fuel for buses, heavy trucking, waste collection, and light vehicle fleets,” said MacTiernan.

The Hazer Group believes that their technology delivers significant emissions savings over even renewable hydrogen delivered through electrolysis.

This is just one of the many renewable hydrogen projects that the Western Australia government is funding through their WA renewable Hydrogen Fund. They are also funding three gigawatt scale projects using wind and solar as the primary fuel source earmarked for the state’s mid-west region and the Pilbara.

The Hazer Group’s project is the best example of the McGowan Government’s Renewable Hydrogen Strategy, which aims to set up WA as a major producer, user and exporter of renewable hydrogen, according to MacTiernan.

Hazer is slated to supply renewable hydrogen to the state beginning in 2021 and will last for three years. A budget of $16.5 million has been set for the capex construction of the facility, this is in addition to the $9.4 million that they will receive from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for capex ($7.9 million) and its operations.

If you are a municipality in Ontario and in need of a biosolids management solution, please feel free to contact us at 1 (877) 479-1388.

Sources:
https://reneweconomy.com.au
https://arena.gov.au

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