Simultaneous hydrogen generation and waste acid neutralization in a reverse electrodialysis system

Marta C. Hatzell, Xiuping Zhu, Bruce E. Logan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Waste acid streams produced at industrial sites are often co-located with large sources of waste heat (e.g., industrial exhaust gases, cooling water, and heated equipment). Reverse electrodialysis (RED) systems can be used to generate electrical power and hydrogen gas using waste heat-derived solutions, but high electrode overpotentials limit system performance. We show here that an ammonium bicarbonate (AmB) RED system can achieve simultaneous waste acid neutralization and in situ hydrogen production, while capturing energy from excess waste heat. The rate of acid neutralization was dependent on stack flow rate and increased 50× (from 0.06 ± 0.04 to 3.0 ± 0.32 pH units min -1 m-2 membrane), as the flow rate increased 6× (from 100 to 600 mL min-1). Acid neutralization primarily took place due to ammonium electromigration (37 ± 4%) and proton diffusion (60 ± 5%). The use of a synthetic waste acid stream as a catholyte (pH ≈ 2) also increased hydrogen production rates by 65% (from 5.3 ± 0.5 to 8.7 ± 0.1 m3 H2 m-3 catholyte day -1) compared to an AmB electrolyte (pH ≈ 8.5). These findings highlight the potential use of dissimilar electrolytes (e.g., basic anolyte and acidic catholyte) for enhanced power and hydrogen production in RED stacks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2211-2216
Number of pages6
JournalACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment


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