Pragmatic Energy (Arbsource)

Arizona State University, 2011 - $20,000

This team is developing the BioHydrogenator (BHR), a device that could reduce wastewater treatment costs for food and beverage makers and produce hydrogen gas in the process. Currently, food and beverage makers in the US use a conventional aerobic (oxygen-rich) process that is effective at eliminating pollutants from wastewater but is extremely energy-intensive and costly.

The BHR uses a fundamentally different type of bacterial ecology and reactor design that offers the ability to treat wastewater without aeration. The main idea is to use the energy released through the breakdown of organic pollutants in the wastewater by microorganisms to create hydrogen gas as a useful byproduct. This transfer of protons and electrons is facilitated by electrodes (an anode and cathode) suspended in a reaction chamber.