Innovation sees production of environmentally friendly fuel from wastewater

Graforce plasmalysis demo plant (Photo: Business Wire)

A Berlin-based tech company has created a unique new technology that saves resources in its highly efficient generation of hydrogen that can be used for fuel from industrial wastewater.

Mixing in biogas produces hydrogen-enriched compressed natural gas (HCNG) – a cost-effective, environmentally friendly fuel for vehicles that also generates electricity and heat.

The plasmalysis technology developed by Graforce not only converts wastewater pollutants into valuable energy, but also reduces emissions (CO2, CO, HC) by 30 to 60 percent. Nitrogen oxide emissions are also reduced by up to 60 percent.

Graforce founder Dr Jens Hanke says the technology is capable of cleaning wastewater and producing a low-cost, low-emission fuel from it.

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“This lets us contribute to solving two pressing problems at once: air pollution and wastewater treatment,” Hanke says.

Cost-effective fuel with lower emissions

Graforce produces hydrogen using the plasmalysis process in its demonstration plant in Berlin. The process uses electricity to split wastewater obtained from biogas, sewage treatment and industrial plants into oxygen and hydrogen. Mixing hydrogen with biogas produces HCNG, which can be used as fuel in natural gas vehicles and in block heating and gas power plants. Only purified water and oxygen remain as waste products. Hydrogen production using plasmalysis is 50-60 per cent cheaper than with conventional processes.

Audi tests wastewater use of methane production with e-fuels

German carmaker Audi has also been committed its reliance for many years to alternative, synthetic fuels. One of the biggest challenges to e-fuel production is the wastewater produced by biogas plants. It requires very expensive cleaning or disposal. Integrating plasmalysis technology into Audi’s e-fuel plants repurposes the wastewater into hydrogen production while purifying it at the same time. This enables Audi’s systems to be used more efficiently.

“Graforce’s plasmalysis is an important contribution to low-emission fuel production while boosting the economy and efficiency of biogas and power-to-gas plants,” explains Dr. Hermann Pengg, Head of Project Management for Renewable Fuels at Audi and CEO of Audi Industriegas GmbH.

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