Cynthia Lam’s H2prO device. Photo Credit: InterestingEngineering.com
This girl is definitely going places. Inventions to help improve the quality of life in a renewable and sustainable approach has been the main efforts of many scientists and engineers today. A participant in Google’s Science Fair, Cynthia Lam, developed a system known as H2prO that purifies water while simultaneously generating energy. In the images above; the upper portion is used for purification of water, while the bottom part is used for hydrogen generation which is connected to a fuel cell and the base unit for filtration of water.
Cynthia’s device uses titanium to separate the pollutants from the water. With the addition of oxidizing substances (methanol, glycerol, and EDTA) this mixture increases the production of hydrogen, which is used as fuel and to make the decomposition more efficient. Tests show that the H2prO has a 90% efficiency in the removal of organic pollutants, and the entire process can happen in only two hours. Unfortunately, the system is still unstable (even with such a satisfactory production of photocatalyic hydrogen) so data regarding energy production is slim to none. However, Cynthia is not giving up yet and plans to finalize her design to help many people in developing countries!
Panasonic’s photocatalytic water purification system. Photo Credit: wonderfulengineering.com
Note: Our apologizes for the missed post on Tuesday; we had some technical difficulties and so have posted the original Tuesday post (this post) for today and will be posting the original Thursday post tomorrow (Friday 1000 hours) instead. Regular scheduling will resume on Sunday.
In some parts of the world clean drinking water is quite rare as the water sources are polluted and purification methods are not available. Panasonic is developing a new technology to address this problem. This technology uses the sunlight for purification of the water extracted from the ground. Recently, a system was presented by the company that uses photocatalysts and sunlight to purify water at a high reaction speed. This readily improves access to clean water, in areas where needed.
The recent breakthrough that led to the discovery of this technology is the system’s ability to bind titanium dioxide (TiO2), a photocatalyst capable to react under ultraviolet light. TiO2 comes in super fine particles and is hard to collect once it has dispersed in the water. Previously, other larger materials were used to bind the TiO2 to them, but it was a loss of active site surface area. The way this technology by Panasonic differs from those found before, is the discovery of Zeolite particles’ (a commercial adsorbent and catalyst) ability to bind the TiO2 particles. This solves the problem by enabling photocatalysts to maintain their active site. As the two particles are bound together by electrostatic force, there is no need for the binder chemicals. As the new photocatalytic particles are stirred, the Zeolite releases the TiO2, which then disperses throughout the water. The resultant reaction speed is much faster as compared to other methods and the processing of large amounts of water is supported. The TiO2 binds to the Zeolite again if the water is still left, which makes it easy to separate and recover the photocatalysts from the water for later use.
The main idea of this project is to develop a small-scale version of this purification system, which may then be deployed at different places where purification of water is needed. See how the system works below!
Panasonic’s photocatalytic water purification system process diagram. Photo Credit: wonderfulengineering.com