As society advances, there is an increasing demand to solve the worsening issues surrounding energy depletion and environmental pollution. Researchers are always striving for new ways to produce clean energy and reduce our footprint on the environment. A team of Researchers from China have now developed an innovative method to produce porous carbon materials using sewage sludge, and thus, acts an environmentally friendly way to recycle sludge.
There are current demands to find new ways to produce clean energy, with alkaline fuel cells being one potential solution due to their low emissions and high efficiencies. However, the catalytic, cathodic materials within these fuels are not ready for commercial use. Currently, many of the electrodes employ a Pt/C hybrid material which is not only expensive, but the catalytic activity can’t meet the application demands.
Striving to increase the commercial potential of fuel cells, the Researchers came up with a very clever route to not only produce new carbon materials, but also a process that helps to alleviate other environmental concerns by recycling waste sludge and using it as a carbon source.
Urban sludge is currently a problem in many areas and traditional sludge disposal methods take up a lot of space, pose a security risk and are of high cost. As such, the ability to convert the components within the sludge, as to maximize available resources, into usable materials is seen as having the most potential for solving the problems associated with municipal sludge pollution.
Sewage sludge is mostly composed of organic matter, alongside proteins and inorganic oxides, making it an ideal starting material and carbon source. The conversion of sludge into heteroatom-doped carbon materials appears to be the most useful way going forward, for both electrode production and environmental impact.
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