Researching technologies for an energy sustainable water infrastructure

  • Logan Bioenergy Lab, Sackett Room 128

The main focus of the Logan lab is the development of new renewable energy technologies, such as microbial fuel cells, for achieving an energy sustainable water infrastructure.

Additional work is underway to better understand the daily energy use in our lives, and how energy is captured and processed. The goal of this work is to develop pathways for energy consumption, and more importantly to shift our energy sources to renewable technologies. Visit the Daily Energy Unit D website.


Current Renewable Energy Research

  Bioenergy using organic matter in METs. The main focus of the Logan lab is on microbial electrochemical technologies (METs) such as microbial fuel cells (MFCs) for electricity generation production from organic matter in wastewater, and microbial electrolysis cells (MECs) which can be used for hydrogen gas or methane gas generation. We have developed METs for other different purposes, such as desalination, nutrient recovery, and carbon capture. We are interested in the microorganisms that are involved in these processes, as well as designing, analyzing, and engineering these systems.
  Desalination: We developed a new method of brackish water desalination called battery electrode deionization (BDI), which is a variant of capacitive deionization (CDI), which can also be used as a low-energy method for desalination.To improve the sustainability of all membrane-based technologies, especially seawater reverse osmosis membranes, we are developing new methods to reduce biofouling for example by using electrically conductive membranes and sacrificial fouling layers that can be in-situ regenerated.
  Nutrient recovery: The BDI process is also being used for selective ammonium ion removal and recovery from wastewaters.
  Electricity production using waste heat: We have invented a new method of capturing waste heat based on using this energy source to distill ammonia out of water, so that concentration gradients could be established with ammonia to generate power in a systems similar to a flow battery. These thermally regenerable batteries (TRBs) have advantages of both capturing waste as electrical power and energy storage.

Other Recent Research Topics

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.
Electricity from salinity gradients
: The same technologies used for desalination can be modified and used for energy production. We are looking at using a new desalination technology developed in our lab called BDI with solutions of different salinities, such as freshwater and seawater, to produce electricity. There are many different types of salinity gradient energy technologies (SGE), but the ones that are being researched in our laboratory include: BDI, 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.

Past Research Topics

Other research topics in the Logan Lab have included: 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.

About Bruce Logan

Bruce Logan is a member of the US National Academy of Engineering (NAE), a Foreign Member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE), 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 a collaborator 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). LOGAN CV- 1-1-20Logan Google scholar- citations.

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