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Electrochemical Resource Recovery

Electrochemical water treatment replaces chemical inputs with electricity, allowing for fine-tuning of unit processes through control of applied current and potential. These modular systems are flexible to varying degrees of centralization and robust to handle intermittent flows and shock loadings. The Tarpeh Lab developed electrochemical stripping, a novel alternative to conventional ammonia stripping that selectively isolates nitrogen based on charge (NH4+) and volatility (NH3) using electricity, a cation exchange membrane, and a gas permeable membrane. Based on continuous-flow nitrogen fluxes, transport from the cathode to the trap chamber was identified as the rate-limiting step of electrochemical stripping. Currently, we are pinpointing rate-limiting phenomena in the cathode chamber and evaluating effects of rate improvement strategies on nitrogen recovery and energy efficiency. Beyond nitrogen, we will explore electrochemical water treatment as a platform technology for recovery of metals and high-value organics from wastewater.