Belgian scientists find new way to clean air while producing energy

World Today


Scientists in Belgium have found a way to clean air and produce energy at the same time. It is the first time this feat has been accomplished. Their project is receiving attention around the globe.

CGTN’s Jack Parrock has more from Antwerp.
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A tiny block converts pollutant compounds, like methanol and ethanol, into clean air. This is done while at the same time storing electricity-producing hydrogen energy with the byproducts.

“When we first found out that it was working, it was indeed very exciting because up until now we’ve only been working on one side of the process – trying to degrade pollutants into less harmful compounds. But once we found out we could actual couple this with energy production, that’s indeed a tremendous step forward,” Prof. Sammy Verbruggen of the University of Antwerp said.

Verbruggen and his team have been working to get to this point for just over a year and half. They’re now testing the cell with a number of other different polluting compounds to broaden its scope before bringing in industry support.

“One of the main application strategies that we envisage is in industries that are coping with very polluted waste streams, such as for instance, the paint industry or textile industry. So we actually want to introduce it as a purification strategy with the additional benefit that you can recover part of the energy that was stored in the pollutants in the gas stream,” Verbruggen said.

It’s a hardy unit which can easily be taken apart, but it will need to be a lot bigger before it could be used industrially. It’s just a small prototype cell at the moment, but the scientists who’ve made it hope it becomes something market viable in the near future.