Electrochemical pH Modulator

Technology #14663

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A system comprising pH-adjustment zone (50) and reaction zone (52) in fluid communication by fluid conduits (54). pH-adjustment zone comprises first electrode (56), second electrode (58), solution (60), and membrane (62)
Professor Alan Hatton
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
External Link (web.mit.edu)
Howard Herzog
MIT Energy Initiative
External Link (energy.mit.edu)
Fritz Simeon
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Michael Stern
Department of Chemical Engineering, MIT
Managed By
Jim Freedman
MIT Technology Licensing Officer - Chemicals, Instruments, Consumer Products
Patent Protection

Methods and systems for carrying out a ph-influenced chemical and/or biological reaction

US Patent 9,302,219


Many chemical and biological reactions are "pH-influenced", where the pH of the reaction environment can affect factors such as the speed or products of the reaction. The current technology applies to modulating the pH of such reactions.

Problem Addressed

Current methods of modulating the pH of a reaction environment include the addition of an acid or base into the reaction, or enabling water hydrolysis by using a membrane. However, these methods tend to be imprecise and irreversible, and often require the constant replenishment of reagents. The current technology addresses these issues by allowing the pH to be controlled using an electrical potential.


The pH of the solution is controlled through the use of a complexation agent, which can either associate or dissociate with acidic or basic compounds depending on the electrical potential applied to it. The electrical potential is applied by way of an electrochemical reaction, where the agents can either be the electrodes themselves, or in the solution surrounding it. As a result, this creates a solution whose pH can be reversibly controlled, and the solution is then introduced into a neighboring reaction environment. The current technology also includes recommendations for several suitable complexation agents, and designs for the overall configuration of the electrodes, pH modulation zone and reaction zone. 


  • Enables the precise control of pH in a chemical and biological reaction environment
  • Enables a reversible change in pH
  • Removes the need to constantly replenish acidic/basic agents