New research uses electricity to clean up toxic water

Researchers from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Sydney have developed an electrochemical oxidation process with the aim of cleaning up complex wastewater that contained a toxic cocktail of chemical pollutants. The wastewater, which contained carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus, was generated in a pilot plant, designed by the team for the production of biofuels using naturally abundant microalgae.

The powerful process eliminates most persistent non-biodegradable pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals and pesticides, as well as various classes of organic compounds that can be found in many industrial effluents. The process does not require the addition of chemicals or severe operation conditions, and does not produce additional waste streams.