Ever wondered how much sewage goes down the drain everyday, without any use to anybody! A team of scientists in China has finally found a way to stem this wasteful slide.
Yanbiao Liu and his colleagues from a university in the country have built a device capable of both cleaning wastewater and producing electricity from it.
Using light as an energy source, the team created a photo-catalytic fuel cell that used a titanium dioxide nanotube-array anode and a cathode based on platinum.
Light degrades the organic material in the wastewater and, in the process, generates electrons which pass through the cathode converting it into electricity.
Yanbiao Liu writes in the paper, Water Science and Technology, that the stuff that goes down the toilet when flushed is a great source of environmental pollution and, at the same time, is an important source of energy and an expensive by-product of human existence.
Everyday billions of people contribute to the ever-growing problem of what to do with all the human waste that is created.
Sewage often contains other materials that need to be removed in order to reuse the water for other purposes. In their lab, the team tested their fuel cell’s ability to separate unwanted materials and produce clean water.
Such a plant would be tremendously useful in areas where sewage is sometimes not treated at all, but simply dumped into rivers or streams, or worse, in the streets. In addition to help clean up such places, the people in those areas would benefit from the electricity that would be produced in the process.