Cain Department of Chemical Engineering SEMINAR

“On the Electrolysis of Urea: from Water Remediation to Biomedical Devices”

Gerardine G. Botte, PhD
Distinguished Professor and Russ Professor
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department
Founder and Director Center for Electrochemical Engineering Research
Ohio University

The electrolysis of urea in alkaline medium has been pioneered and is being studied by Dr. Botte and members of her research group at the Center for Electrochemical Engineering Research at Ohio University for multiple applications including: hydrogen production, wastewater remediation, sensors, and biomedical devices. In the process, the electrochemical oxidation of urea to nitrogen and carbon dioxide takes place at the anode of the electrolytic cell in nickel-based electrodes, while hydrogen evolves at the cathodic compartment. The process, with a theoretical cell voltage of 0.37 V at standard conditions, is thermodynamically more favorable than water electrolysis. Because of its low energy consumption and the use of inexpensive catalysts, the technology finds applications for the production of hydrogen on demand requiring only the storage of urea. In addition to direct production of hydrogen on demand, urea-rich wastewaters can be remediated via urea electrolysis to prevent toxic ammonia emissions and nitrate contamination that currently results from leaving these waters untreated.

The electrochemical response of the urea electrolytic cell is a function of the concentration of urea; therefore, sensors (at the micro and nano scales) can be designed to monitor the concentration of urea online. Urea sensors have numerous applications in different markets, including: food science, clinical diagnostics, wastewater treatment facilities, industrial processes (e.g., power plants and fertilizer industries), and in the diesel automobile/truck market, among others. For example, in clinical diagnostics, monitoring urea in blood provides information on kidney’s disease (the normal range of urea level in serum ranges from 2.5mM to 7.5mM). In this talk, Dr. Botte will present a summary of the technology including catalysts, oxidation rates, progress on understanding of the reaction mechanism, and the potential of the technology for the development of biomedical devices, e.g., sensors and portable dialysis machines.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018
10:30 AM
1100 Patrick F. Taylor Hall