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An electrochemical process treats wastewater from biofuels production

By Paul Grad |

Researchers from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Universiy of Sydney (Sydney, Australia; www.sydney.edu.au), led by Alejandro Montoya, have developed an electrochemical oxidation process to clear up wastewater, which is heavily contaminated with organic and inorganic species during a biofuel production process, using naturally abundant microalgae. The electrochemical oxidation process uses a boron-doped diamond anode to improve the quality of the aqueous-phase coproduct from the hydrothermal liquefaction (HTL-ACP) of microalgae Chlorella sp. According to the researchers, the oxidation process produced an outstanding decrease of the chemical oxygen demand (COD) — ranging from 11 to 185 g/L with a median value of 65 g/L — including the decomposition of organic nitrogen and the discoloration of an original brown HTL-ACP. The nitrogen remains largely as ammonia/ammonium and nitrates. The deamination of nitrogenous organic compounds with subsequent accumulation of NH3/NH4– in the HTL-ACP and the partial oxidation to N2 take place more easily at lower current density, while the complete oxidation to NO3– is more pronounced at higher current densities. The HTL-ACP contains between 25 and 50% of the carbon…
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