Assistant research professor receives innovation, green electrochemistry awards

November 18, 2022

By Sarah Small 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ruggero Rossi, assistant research professor in the Penn State Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, has received two awards: the International Society for Microbial Electrochemistry and Technology (ISMET) 2022 Innovation Award for best technological development, and the International Society for Electrochemisty (ISE)-Elsevier Prize for Green Electrochemistry.

ISMET “acknowledges outstanding work published by postgraduate students, postdoctoral researchers and industry affiliates who are current ISMET members [with awards that] acknowledge the best scientific publication and best breakthrough innovation,” according to ISMET’s website.

Rossi received the ISMET Innovation Award for his paper, “Pilot scale microbial fuel cells using air cathodes for producing electricity wastewater,” published in the journal Water Research. At the time the paper was published, he was a postdoctoral researcher advised by Bruce Logan, Kappe Professor and Evan Pugh University Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

The paper details Rossi’s research in which he led a team to scale up a reactor to treat wastewater at a fraction of the cost of conventional wastewater treatment technologies. The study was carried out for approximately 10 months in collaboration with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the system was installed in the Tobyhanna Army Depot in Pennsylvania. 

“At 850 liters, our reactor was the largest air-cathode microbial fuel cell ever produced, and it generated electrical energy while treating domestic and industrial wastewater,” Rossi said.

The ISE-Elsevier Prize for Green Electrochemistry is awarded annually in recognition of scientists 35 years of age and younger who have contributed significantly to the field of environmental electrochemistry, according to the ISE website.

“It is fantastic to see Ruggero’s work receiving attention through awards such as the prestigious ISE-Elsevier prize,” said Logan, who also is affiliated with the mechanical engineering and chemical engineering departments. “Ruggero has conducting some really cutting-edge research in several different electrochemistry areas, including the development and scale-up of novel electrochemical technologies for energy-neutral wastewater treatment and bioelectrochemical hydrogen production. He has developed a very creative and useful new water electrolyzer configuration for producing green hydrogen from renewable electricity and unconventional water sources.”

Prior to joining Penn State, Rossi graduated from the University of Bologna, Italy, in 2017. His current research efforts are in renewable energy production and the development of a sustainable water infrastructure. 


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