New Study Shows Electric Fields Can Improve Wastewater Purification Efficiency

New Study Shows Electric Fields Can Improve Wastewater Purification Efficiency

Improved Ammonia removal from wastewater using electric fields. (Image courtesy of National Korea Maritime & Ocean University)

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Air stripping converts ammonia into a gas that can escape the wastewater from its surface. But this process is energy-intensive, and requires specific temperatures, air supply and many chemicals, making it expensive.

Addressing these drawbacks, in a study published in Water Research, researchers from South Korea have demonstrated that the simple application of an electric field during air stripping can substantially improve the efficiency of ammonia removal, even under suboptimal conditions. "So far, the removal of ammonia from wastewater was thought to be dependent on only pH, temperature and air supply. However, we have shown that an electrical field can also act as a modulator of this process," says Prof. Young-Chae Song, the lead investigator on this study.

Professor Song and his team used a combination of live experiments with an ammonia stripping tank and deep learning to understand how electric fields of different strengths influence the efficiency of ammonia removal from wastewater. They found that electric fields with an alternating current of 50 MHz and a power of 15 volts per centimeter significantly improves the ammonia removal efficiency, increasing it from 51% to 94%, even under suboptimal conditions. Therefore, improved ammonia yields could be achieved while considerably reducing the consumption of energy and chemicals.

"Our simulations showed that electric field application provides a similar efficiency of ammonia removal to conventional methods at a much lower temperature, air supply and pH," says Song. "Moreover, the energy needed to power the electric field is a minute fraction of the energy required to achieve these optimal conditions."

Indeed, this new electric field-coupled platform could provide a more economical way of stripping ammonia from wastewater and reducing the carbon footprint associated with this process.


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