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Masterprojekt/Masterarbeit: Characterization of separators for microbial electrolysis cells feed with anaerobic digestor effluents

Hydrogen is often considered the energy vector of the future, since hydrogen combustion results in water as only product, therefore presenting itself as a possible green alternative to fossil fuels for a “CO2-neutral” society.

Microbial electrolysis cells (MEC) offers the advantage of producing hydrogen at the (abiotic) cathode with simultaneous treatment of wastes, such as anaerobic digestor effluents, at the bio-anode, making MEC a promising environmental technology for energy recovery from wastes (circular economy). Another advantage of MEC is that hydrogen can be generated with lower electricity demand compared to abiotic water electrolyzers, as part of the energy comes from the oxidation of waste water or similar biomass resources.

In order to prevent the growth of hydrogen-consuming microorganisms at the abiotic cathode, it is necessary to utilize separators between the two compartments of the MEC.

These separators unfortunately cause additional overpotentials, for example due to the pH imbalance between the two compartments, which can increase the cell voltage, hindering the overall efficiency of the process.

The aim of this Master Thesis/Project is to identify and characterize possible alternative separators for MEC operated with an anaerobic digestor effluent.

The candidate will set-up multiple H-cells experiments, analyzing the electrochemical performance of the separators (in terms of additional overpotential), the diffusion of species and microorganisms through the separators (via HPLC, qPCR and Ion-chromatography analysis) and the possible biofouling and degradation of the separators (IR and fluorescence microscopy analysis).

Language: English

Duration: 6 months


Prof. Dr.-Ing habil. Sven Kerzenmacher – kerzenmacherprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de

M.Sc. Simone Colantoni - simone.colantoniprotect me ?!uni-bremenprotect me ?!.de