Electrochemical water treatment using graphene sponge electrodes

Electrochemical (waste)water treatment is typically performed using conventional two-dimensional (2D) plate-and-frame reactors. Given that electrochemical degradation of contaminants is a surface-based reaction, 2D reactor design results in high mass transfer limitations and thus high energy consumption. This energy consumption of electrochemical systems can be significantly reduced using three-dimensional (3D), flow-through reactors due to the greatly increases surface area available for electrochemical reactions and lower mass transfer limitations.

In this project, we have developed graphene sponge electrodes capable of removing and degrading contaminants persistent to chemical oxidation (e.g,, pesticides, X-ray agents, antibiotics), as well as a range of microbial indicators (E. coli, spores, and others). Our graphene sponge electrodes can be used as anodes or cathodes, and are also showing very promising performance for the elimination of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Due to the intrinsci characteristics of graphene in terms of its reactivity with different inorganic ions, our graphene sponge electrodes barely form any chlorine, thus overcoming one of the main limitations of electrochemical water treatment systems - formation of toxic byproducts in the presence of chloride, and representing a breakthrough in the current state-of-the-art. Electrochemical water treatment using graphene sponge electrodes is currently in preparation for patent application and publication.