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Hydrogen Economy Based AOP

Project Number # 1136

Application of sustainable hydrogen economy based AOP for removal of emerging contaminants

Problem:

As a green chemical which only produces water after reaction, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has seen increasing applications in water industry over the past decades from conventional Fenton reaction to UV-H2O2 AOP for disinfection and contaminant degradation. Compared to other oxidants (e.g. Cl2), H2O2 does not produce other toxic intermediates and final products in water treatment. Apart from the promising application in water industry, H2O2 has many other applications in various industries, being one of the 100 most used chemicals. Recent studies showed that H2O2 could also be an alternative source in hydrogen fuel cells. Currently, H2O2 is mainly produced through the energy-demanding and waste-intensive anthraquinone process using fossil fuel as raw materials. Recent advances in circular hydrogen economy provide utilities with a sustainable cost-effective tool to produce H2O2 for AOP in water and recycled treatment processes.

Background/Description:

Recently, researchers at Monash University ARC Research Hub for Energy-efficient Separation (EESep)

developed an innovative photocatalytic technology which can produce H2O2 from water and air under sunlight.  As a result, the technology has a potential to use the secondary treated effluent as the raw materials for H2O2 production, which at same time is able to remove the emerging contaminants. This will enable water utilities to be a key player in the emerging hydrogen economy, not only producing enough H2O2 for water industry but supplying to other industries, which will help Australia to secure a global leading position in sustainable development. 

Notably, the emerging hydrogen economy is not limited to Hydrogen. Instead, the hydrogen economy is relying on several key hydrogen-containing chemicals (e.g. H2, CH4 and H2O2), which all can be produced from renewable sources. They are all important raw materials in many industries and energy-carriers. Hence, in this project H2O2 is produced using a green approach by using sunlight, air and water only.

Please see Water Research Australia's hydrogen economy based AOP factsheet for further background information

Objectives:

The objectives of this project are:

  • To test the feasibility of using secondary treated effluent for H2O2 production;
  • To design energy-passive AOPs based on the generated H2O2 for the removal of emerging contaminants.

Scope/Deliverables:

  • New scientific and operational knowledge of converting secondary effluents into green chemicals;
  • H2O2 based AOPs for water treatment at lab and pilot scales;  
  • Comparison between other commonly used AOPs and this novel process
  • Investigate the ability to control and optimise in-situ H2O2 (specifically hydroxyl radical) production.
  • Compare and contrast the novel in-situ H2O2 production process against conventional peroxide dosing, for energy, operability and control, CAPEX/OPEX cost, quenching requirements. 

Investigative or Research Approach:

This project is tailored collaboration between WaterRA industry partners and Monash University ARC Research Hub for Energy-efficient Separation (EESep).

Secondary treated effluent from WaterRA industry members will be used to generate H2O2 utilising the EESep innovative technology. Then, contaminated synthetic and natural water will be used to assess performance of H2O2 based AOPs for removal of emerging contaminants including, but not limited to, antibiotics, hormones, algal toxins, taste and odour compounds and PFAS-PFOS group of chemical. The research approach will consider the operational practicalities. Control of H2O2 production will be critical to ensure the process produces enough to ensure adequate hydroxyl free radicals to oxidise contaminants. However, quenching the excess of peroxide is required. Typically quenching of H2O2 processes use either free chlorine or activated carbon.

This project is part of our Whole Water Community of Interest

Media releases regarding this project are available below: