In green hydrogen news today, Scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland have successfully converted wastewater from the whisky industry into a sustainable source of green hydrogen.
- The nanoparticles yielded quantities of green hydrogen comparable to or slightly higher than traditional methods.
- By repurposing whisky byproducts for hydrogen manufacturing, the initiative frees up freshwater resources.
Scientists at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland managed to transform wastewater from the whisky industry into sustainable fuel.
Every year, the distilling industry produces around one billion liters of wastewater. To put it into perspective, that’s about 5,600 Olympic-sized swimming pools. In parallel, traditionally manufacturing green hydrogen consumes around 20.5 billion liters of fresh water annually. Can you see where this is going?
If we managed to somehow make the whisky byproduct eligible for use in hydrogen manufacturing, we would free up fresh water for other uses, like, I don’t know, drinking water for the 2 billion people worldwide who lack access to safely managed drinking water services. Just a thought…
So that’s exactly what these scientists did. The team, led by Dr. Sudhagar Pitchaimuthu, developed nanoscale materials that use distillery wastewater to create green hydrogen. Apparently, the material, called nickel selenide, is so minuscule that a single human hair is wider. They yielded similar or slightly higher quantities of green hydrogen compared to the traditional method.
But why is green hydrogen important in the first place, you might ask? Traditional hydrogen, also called grey hydrogen, is mainly derived from fossil fuels which, when burned, emit copious amounts of carbon into the environment. That’s kind of how we got here: Scientists trying to perform CPR on our planet. So, they are trying their hardest to move away from fossil fuels.
Dr Pitchaimuthu, a materials scientist at the university’s School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, emphasized the environmental significance of their research. “It takes nine kilograms of water to produce every one kilogram of green hydrogen. Meanwhile, every liter of malt whisky production creates about 10 liters of residue. To help protect the planet, we need to reduce our use of fresh water and other natural resources.”
Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.
The next steps include scaling up the production of the nickel selenide nanoparticles. But what I’m really curious about is the cost for companies to implement this. God forbid executives to take pay cuts instead of cutting our lifespan by years. Or worse, hurt the companies’ bottom lines!
Listen, I’m neither a whiskey fan nor a whisky fan. Heck, I don’t even like alcohol all that much. but I understand the importance of keeping our vices while innovating for the future. How else are we supposed to cope with our world falling apart?
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