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UPEI research tackling climate change by converting potato peelings into hydrogen

From the Springboard Content Lab

Yulin Hu conducts research to extract green energy fuels from waste

UPEI researchers experimenting with novel approaches to combatting climate change by creating green energy by extracting hydrogen from waste products such as potato peelings, saw dust and seafood shells.

Yulin Hu, assistant professor in the Faculty of Sustainable Design Engineering at UPEI, successfully completed a simulation that proved potato waste could be converted into hydrogen.

The simulation was published in the Frontiers of Agricultural Science and Engineering in October 2023.

Combatting climate change

When she first moved to PEI, Hu realized that potatoes are a huge part of the island's economy and that the waste could be used to produce green energy.

"I started to realize the potato industry is a very big part of the province, and when you are processing the potato you're going to generate a lot of the waste. So we started doing the simulation of using the potato waste to produce the hydrogen. And the simulation results can tell us that actually the potato waste is really promising." - Yulin Hu

The experiment began with the objective of PEI-focus to combating food waste and developing green energy alternatives in the battle against climate change.

UPEI Researchers Yulin Hu and Nasim Mia experimenting with hydrogen extraction from waste and UV light

Cavendish farms, based in New Annan, PEI, has also been using potato waste to power its french fry processing facility.

Hu's research will allow create a hydrogen fuel that can be used for broader applications such as the transportation industry.

Hu's researched is being funded by $142,500 from the Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC).

Other hydrogen projects at UPEI

UPEI Green energy research is also using tunicate - an invasive aquatic species in the mussel industry - as a raw material to produce hydrogen.

Hu is also working with researchers at Dalhousie University on an experiment that will use sawdust to absorb carbon.

And a masters student working in solar-driven hydrogen generation is working on a research project that uses UV light to generate hydrogen gas. Nasim Mia is using UV to divide water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

UPEI masters student uses UV light to create hydrogen gas

The research, which has yet to be quantified, is now producing some hydrogen gases.

The UV work is being funded by a $60,000 grant from AKA Energy System and Mitacs grant for two years, P.E.I. Climate Challenge Fund is contributing $70,000 for one year.

The experiment has received funding from the Climate Challenge Fund, Mitacs and AKA Energy Systems, which will be used to expand and improve the laboratory experiments Hu and her colleagues will conduct at UPEI.

"The main things that intrigued us is looking for alternative fuels for our future generations, and the other thing is the carbon emissions, which is damaging our environment. So these are the two things that really intrigued us to work on green energies, so that we can find the alternative fuel sources." - Nasim Mia


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