Electrochemical Wastewater Refining for Circular Chemical Manufacturing

Energy and water are two critical interdependent systems that impact environmental quality and require urgent innovation. Mining critical materials for energy storage requires large freshwater inputs and introduces pollutants to aqueous environments. Treating wastewater and producing potable require substantial energy inputs. Electrochemical wastewater refining, or the generation of tunable product portfolios from waste streams, can address both of these needs. This approach employs electrocatalysis and electrochemical separations to electrify water treatment, enable on-site wastewater treatment, and capture as much value as possible from waste streams before they are discharged to the environment. This seminar will focus on two case studies: (1) enabling battery recycling via novel lithium-selective electrochemical materials and (2) facilitating on-site ammonia fertilizer production from wastewater with unprecedented low energy consumption. These examples of electrochemical wastewater refining illustrate the promise of valorizing waste streams to achieve circularity, reduce energy inputs, and sustain both chemical manufacturing and environmental protection.

Dr. William Tarpeh is an assistant professor of chemical engineering at Stanford University.  The Tarpeh Lab develops and evaluates reactive separations in “waste” waters at several synergistic scales: molecular mechanisms of chemical transport and transformation; novel unit processes that increase resource efficiency; and systems-level assessments that prioritize optimization opportunities. Will completed his B.S. in chemical engineering at Stanford, his M.S. and Ph.D. in environmental engineering at UC Berkeley, and postdoctoral training at the University of Michigan in environmental engineering. His recent awards include the Paul Busch Award for innovation in water treatment from the Water Research Foundation, the American Institute of Chemical Engineering 35 Under 35, and the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award.