Green hydrogen from distillery wastewater
Feb 12, 2024
In a new study, scientists at Heriot-Watt University have discovered a sustainable method to produce green hydrogen, a type of renewable fuel, using wastewater from the distilling industry. This new approach not only addresses the global challenge of water scarcity but also offers a promising solution for the sustainable production of clean energy.
Green hydrogen production from distillery wastewater
Globally, the distilling industry is thought to produce around 1 billion litres a year of wastewater. Scientists at Heriot-Watt have developed a way to use this wastewater to produce green hydrogen, a process which currently consumes 20.5 billion litres of fresh water a year.
Dr Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu, a materials scientist in Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, explained: “It takes 9kg of water to produce every 1kg of green hydrogen. Meanwhile, every 1 litre of malt whisky production creates about 10 litres of residue. To help protect the planet, we need to reduce our use of fresh water and other natural resources. So our research focused on how to use this distillery wastewater for green hydrogen production with a simple process that removes waste materials present in the water.”
Nanoscale material development and future steps
Dr Pitchaimuthu and his team have developed a nanoscale material – a particle that is one in 10,000th the diameter of a human hair – to allow distillery wastewater to replace fresh water in the green hydrogen production process. The nanoparticle, called a nickel selenide, treats the wastewater and, in the team’s research, produced similar or slightly higher quantities of green hydrogen from the wastewater, compared to the results from fresh water. The research is published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal, Sustainable Energy & Fuels, in a paper entitled From brew to clean fuel: harnessing distillery wastewater for electrolysis H2 generation using nano scale nickle selenide water oxidation catalysts.
The paper is authored by Dr Pitchaimuthu’s PhD student, Michael Walsh, who played a key role in conducting the research. The next steps for the research team include developing their own electrolyser prototype and scaling up production of their nickel selenide nanoparticles. They will also be analysing the distillery wastewater to discover whether other materials of value could be salvaged from it, alongside hydrogen and oxygen. The research was funded by Heriot-Watt’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences and completed in collaboration with the University of Bath’s Department of Chemical Engineering and The Scotch Whisky Research Institute, which supports applied research across the Scotch Whisky production process.
Dr Pitchaimuthu is an Associate Professor at Heriot-Watt’s Institute of Mechanical, Process & Energy Engineering and Associate Director at the University’s Research Centre for Carbon Solutions, which is focused on developing low-carbon systems and solutions. He has a PhD in Physics from Bharathiar University in India and, before joining Heriot-Watt in 2021, worked on materials science research projects in South Korea.
More News and Articles
Feb 21, 2024
Following the devastating flooding from Cyclone Gabrielle in 2023, Watercare is acknowledging the ongoing recovery efforts one year on.
Feb 19, 2024
Our panel of international experts examines how utilities can embrace a global outlook when it comes to security.
Feb 16, 2024
The Silver Creek Water Corporation in southern Indiana manages millions of gallons of water, over hilly terrain, for 20,000 people. Over several decades, the utility has deployed technology from Xylem’s Sensus brand to remotely manage meters, prevent water loss and …
Feb 14, 2024
As the underground grows more crowded, the industry is under pressure to deliver highly accurate installations through a web of existing infrastructure.
Feb 09, 2024
The UK water sector should give more focus to the themes of delivering resilient infrastructure systems and protecting and enhancing natural systems, according to a survey about the UK 2050 Water Innovation Strategy.
Feb 07, 2024
Drinking water scarcity is a global issue, including in Sweden, where it’s also used for crop irrigation and various industrial operations. This practice is neither sustainable nor efficient. Hence, MDU has launched an innovative research project aimed at developing efficient …
Feb 05, 2024
Industrial companies and commercial building owners wanting to reduce waste to improve cost efficiency and save water, must become smarter in their operations, writes Paul Hartley, chief commercial officer, Ovarro
Feb 02, 2024
New online training course in the renovation section of the e-learning platform: Lining with Cured-In-Place Pipes (CIPP). The flexible remote seminar comprises units about basics, proceudures, installation of UV CIPP, final work, and spirally-wound lining. One section was developed with …
Feb 02, 2024
The Watercare network investigation team are currently assessing wastewater pipes in Auckland suburb Mangere East, New Zealand.
Jan 31, 2024
Tunnel boring machines Daphne and Beatrice are preparing to relaunch at the Sydney Metro West site at The Bays, New South Wales.
Jan 29, 2024
Groundwater is a keystone ecosystem. An international study proposes ways to improve its protection to preserve biodiversity and mitigate climate change.
Jan 25, 2024
Digital water technologies have the potential to create resilient water utilities capable of responding to unpredictable weather patterns, says Adam Wood, chief product officer, InfoTiles.