Researching technologies for an energy sustainable water infrastucture

The main focus of the Logan lab is the development of new renewable energy technologies, such as microbial fuel cells and thermal regenerative batteries, for achieving an energy sustainable water infrastructure. A new area of research is on electrochemical desalination technologies.

METs: To achieve new approaches for energy independence for water and wastewater processes, we have been researching technologies that use bacteria to produce an electrical current, called exoelectrogens. We have developed several different microbial electrochemical technologies (METs) such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) for the simultaneous treatment of wastewater with electricity generation, hydrogen or methane generation using microbial electrolysis cells (MECs), and METs for different purposes, such as desalination, nutrient recovery, and carbon capture.

Desalination: The newest area of research in our laboratory is on new methods of desalination, including battery electrode deionization (BDI) and capacitive deionization (CDI) for desalination of brackish water, and methods to reduce biofouling of reverse osmosis (RO) and other membrane separation technologies. We are working with scientists at Penn State researching and advancing membrane technologies. Visit the Membrane Center website (under development).

SGE: Another focus of research in the Logan lab is the development and advancement of new technologies for production of electricity using carbon neutral sources such as naturally occurring salinity gradients, for example where rivers flow into the ocean or where treated wastewater is released into the ocean. The salinity gradient energy technologies (SGE) being researched in our laboratory to produce electricity include primarily reverse electrodialysis (RED), capacitive mixing cells (CapMix) to extract energy based on electrode capacitance, and concentration flow cell-based (CFC) batteries that use pseudo-capactive electrode reactions to extract energy as electricity. We have also examined the combination of SGE technologies with METs, for example by incorporating RED stacks into MFCs or MECs.

Membrane Bioreactors. For low-strength wastewaters (<~200 mg/L of COD) hollow fiber membrane bioreactors that contain a high concentration of granular activated carbon (GAC) can be used to effectively treat and filter wastewater. We have worked primarily with anaerobic membrane bioreactors, where the GAC is kept suspended using recirculation, but also with micro-aerobic bioreactors where the GAC is suspended by both air bubbles and recirculation. You can visit the xMBR page for information on these reactors, or more generally on membrane research at Penn State.

Waste Heat at industrial sites and power plants, as well as solar and geothermal heat sources, can provide additional sources of energy for producing electricity. Recently, we invented a new method of capturing waste heat was invented based on using waste heat to distill ammonia out of water, and to use ammonia to generate power in a flow battery.

Past research in the Logan Lab has included: research on particle dynamics, such as marine snow formation in the ocean, coagulation processes that produce fractal particles, and bioadhesion/bacterial transport in groundwater and filters; modeling of trickling filters; the development of a simplified measurement of biochemical oxygen demand call the HBOD test; perchlorate remediation; the degradation of pollutants using white rot fungi; and molecular-scale techniques to study particle dynamics and microbial adhesion in engineered and natural systems.

Current funding: Link to all funded projects in the Logan lab.

Bruce Logan is a member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), International Water Association (IWA), the Water Environment Foundation (WEF), and the Association of Environmental Science and Engineering Professors (AEESP). He is an investigator with KAUST (Saudi Arabia), a former Franqui International Chair at Ghent University (2013, Belgium); and a visiting professor at Newcastle University (UK), Tsinghua University, Harbin Institute of Technology, and Dalian University of Technology (China). Link to his Full CV- 7-7-18Logan Google scholar- citations.

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