Green Innovation: UPEI’s Hydrogen Experiment with Potato Peels


These days researchers are working tirelessly to discover new ways of generating clean and green fuel to reduce harmful emissions. Among various things that have been considered, kitchen waste is also taken into account. UPEI researchers are experimenting with potato peels to generate hydrogen for producing green fuel. They are also using food scraps, wood, and UV light to generate hydrogen gas.

Dr. Yulin Hu, a talented engineering assistant professor at UPEI, is on a mission to revolutionize green energy. Her innovative research delves into the utilization of potato peels as a vital ingredient in the production of syngas. Synthesis gas, also called syngas, is a mix of carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen (Hâ‚‚). It is used as fuel and can be made from various carbon-based sources. Additionally, syngas is used to produce different chemicals.

Hu and her colleagues have successfully demonstrated the practicality of utilizing potato waste to generate hydrogen in a simulation published in the prestigious journal, Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering in October.

Dr. Hu said, “Hydrogen is green fuel. And I think it’s the future, because hydrogen has three times the energy content of gasoline and diesel fuels, and when we burn it, it’s just water.”

Hu said this project began with the aim of addressing food waste challenges while simultaneously enhancing the viability of syngas production.

One of the researchers working with Dr. Hu in her research is a graduate research student and teaching assistant at UPEI, Nasim Mia. Together they are working on generating hydrogen for green fuels.

Mia not only collaborates on the co-gasification simulation and experiment, but also carries out extensive research on the advantageous effect of UV light on hydrogen production. Nasim Mia’a laboratory experiments involve fluid-filled vials, multiple UV light bulbs, and a darkened box. He uses these to produce hydrogen.

The Idea

Before Hu started her research, Cavendish Farms in P.E.I. was already conducting a similar experiment. They were transforming potato peels into biofuels in large tanks at one of their processing facilities.

“I was thinking, ‘Are there any other alternative solutions that we can also value this potato waste?’” Dr. Yulin Hu said.

Upon learning about the experiment from her colleagues, Hu’s mind started to explore potential alternative applications for potato waste.

Also See: The Hydrogen Era: Insights into the Upcoming U.S. Energy Transformation

Dr. Hu’s Other Experiments

In addition to researching potato gasification, Hu’s focus also extends to carbon absorption in collaboration with Dalhousie University. Together, they are conducting experiments to explore innovative solutions for a more sustainable future.

UPEI researchers are experimenting with potato peels to generate hydrogen. Hu and her dedicated research team have recently performed numerous simulations, the outcomes of which have been documented in a published paper that showcases highly encouraging findings.

Dr. Hu said, “Even though we know hydrogen is a very green fuel, how can we shift from petroleum-based to hydrogen-based? It will take a decade, at least. It seems like a very good way, but we still have to further modify the materials.”

Hu is collaborating with Dalhousie University in Halifax to tackle the issue of fossil fuel emissions in a creative and environmentally friendly manner. Together, they are conducting an experiment to explore the potential of using sawdust as an absorbent for CO2 during the transition to greener technologies.

The main focus of Hu’s research lies in conducting experiments with hydrogen fuel, aiming to enhance green energy and eliminate the reliance on petroleum.

Hu aims to facilitate the shift from fossil fuels to more environmentally friendly alternatives by implementing an interim plan alongside gasification experiments. This multifaceted approach not only helps alleviate the environmental consequences of our current dependence on fossil fuels, but also paves the way for a greener future.

According to Hu, it is estimated that the laboratory process of the potato experiment will take several years to complete. However, she is confident in the strong results due to the proven success of the published simulation.

Source: Researchers at UPEI experimenting with making hydrogen from potato peels

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