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Comment Water Treatment

This wastewater-treatment process also captures carbon dioxide

By Mary Page Bailey |

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder (Boulder, Colo.; www.colorado.edu) have developed a technology that combines wastewater treatment and carbon capture, resulting in a carbon-negative process that actually produces energy. The technology — called microbial electrolytic carbon capture (MECC) — takes advantage of the pH of the water-treatment environment to capture the carbon dioxide that is generated not only during degradation of the organic components in the wastewater, but also the CO2 from fluegas or the atmosphere. In laboratory demonstrations, a sample of wastewater from a shale gas well was fed into the anodic side of a two-chambered reactor in the presence of microbial bacteria and calcium silicate (CaSiO3). The wastewater serves as an electrolyte, providing protons and dissolving the calcium silicate, as the bacteria breaks down the organic compounds within the water. Using an abundant mineral like calcium silicate is akin to the way nature captures CO2, says Zhiyong Jason Ren, the study’s lead researcher. He also noted that flyash, a residual waste stream from power plants, can also be used for this purpose. As the metallic calcium ions move across the reactor’s cation-exchange membrane (CEM), CO2…
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