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Sumaya Sarmin


PhD Candidate | UNSW Sydney

My passion for environmental conservation has played a role in the focus of my PhD studies, centered around renewable energy and wastewater management. I began my PhD candidate having completed my Bachelor and Masters of Chemical Engineering at the University of New South Wales (UNSW). Wanting to make real-world changes to industrial processes, my research has focused around renewable hydrogen production, and wastewater management, and will implement the process commercially.

In recent years, hydrogen production through biomass water electrolysis has gained attention for simultaneously producing fuel and value-added chemicals. Existing electrochemical water splitting, via the hydrogen and oxygen evolution reactions, occurs in the cathode and anode, respectively, to produce hydrogen. Water is the most plentiful and renewable resource, but using it as a hydrogen resource requires a lot of energy, is problematic for use in agriculture and drinking, and can be expensive when the water oxidation reaction is sluggish. My project aims to understand how electrolysis can be carried out directly, utilising solar energy, the waste biomass stream from the soft drink industry as the electrolyser’s feedstock to produce hydrogen, value-added chemicals, and wastewater management.

The current research will be conducted in three main steps:

  1. The effects of minerals on a tandem system to produce hydrogen from beverage industry wastewater

  2. Use of Lewis acid zeolites in combination with a homogeneous Brønsted acid catalyst an alternative in hydrothermal reaction to convert original biomass into 5-HMF conversion

  3. To improve hydrogen production efficiency via a solar-driven biomass electrolysis system using an efficient catalyst.


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