Info
Info
News Article

Water-splitting Module: A Source Of Perpetual Energy?

News

Perovskite-based 'artificial leaf' concept inspires Rice University research into solar-powered fuel production

Rice University researchers have created an efficient, low-cost device that splits water to produce hydrogen fuel.

The platform developed by the Brown School of Engineering lab of Rice materials scientist Jun Lou integrates catalytic electrodes and perovskite solar cells that, when triggered by sunlight, produce electricity. The current flows to the catalysts that turn water into hydrogen and oxygen, with a sunlight-to-hydrogen efficiency as high as 6.7 percent.

This sort of catalysis isn't new, but the lab packaged a perovskite layer and the electrodes into a single module that, when dropped into water and placed in sunlight, produces hydrogen with no further input.

The platform introduced by Lou, lead author and Rice postdoctoral fellow Jia Liang and their colleagues in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano is a self-sustaining producer of fuel that, they say, should be simple to produce in bulk.

"The concept is broadly similar to an artificial leaf," Lou said. "What we have is an integrated module that turns sunlight into electricity that drives an electrochemical reaction. It utilises water and sunlight to get chemical fuels."

The most efficient perovskite solar cells produced so far achieve an efficiency above 25 percent, but the materials are expensive and tend to be stressed by light, humidity and heat.

"Jia has replaced the more expensive components, like platinum, in perovskite solar cells with alternatives like carbon," Lou said. "That lowers the entry barrier for commercial adoption. Integrated devices like this are promising because they create a system that is sustainable. This does not require any external power to keep the module running."

Liang said the key component may not be the perovskite but the polymer that encapsulates it, protecting the module and allowing to be immersed for long periods. "Others have developed catalytic systems that connect the solar cell outside the water to immersed electrodes with a wire," he said. "We simplify the system by encapsulating the perovskite layer with a Surlyn (polymer) film."

The patterned film allows sunlight to reach the solar cell while protecting it and serves as an insulator between the cells and the electrodes, Liang said.

"With a clever system design, you can potentially make a self-sustaining loop," Lou said. "Even when there's no sunlight, you can use stored energy in the form of chemical fuel. You can put the hydrogen and oxygen products in separate tanks and incorporate another module like a fuel cell to turn those fuels back into electricity."

The researchers said they will continue to improve the encapsulation technique as well as the solar cells themselves to raise the efficiency of the modules.

'A Low-Cost and High-Efficiency Integrated Device toward Solar-Driven Water Splitting' by Jia Liang et al; ACS Nano 2020

SunBrush Mobil Delivers Its New Cleaning Device For PV Tracking Systems To Chile
A Promising Boost To Kesterite Solar Cells
ENGIE And Kiwi Power Enter Netherlands’ Grid Flexibility Market
New Energy Scout GmbH Becomes Part Of Basler & Hofmann AG
UK'S Largest Battery Ready To Balance The Grid
Sonnedix Named ESG Global Solar Power Generation Sector Leader By GRESB
Azelio And JET ENERGY In MoU To Develop Storage Projects With Solar PV In Africa
BayWa R.e. Sells Subsidy-free Solar Farm In Spain To Commerz Real’s Impact Fund Klimavest
Luxcara Acquires Largest Independent PV Project In Germany From BELECTRIC
NextEnergy Capital Acquires Its First Asset In Portugal 17.4MWp Solar PV Project
New Innovation Set To Change Renewable Energy Market
Midsummer’s Solar Cells Can Reduce Truck Fuel Emissions By Up To 20 Percent
Researchers Pinpoint Way To Improve CIGS Solar Cells
Sunstore Solar Launches WattGrid, A New Range Of Turnkey Off-grid Power Systems
Midsummer And Rollgum Corp Team Up To Bring Solar Roofs To The Iberian Peninsula
Ingeteam Supplies Solar Inverters For PV Project Of More Than 100MW In Chile
EnBW Chooses Delta Inverters For 2.62 MWp Solar Farm In Kenzingen
What Role Can Solar Energy Play In Enabling A Better Future And Meeting The UN Sustainable Development Goals?
BISOL Supreme Facing Exceptional Sales
Faber Infrastructure Launches Container-based Power Supply
EnergyLink3 And C4V Lead Tesla In Race To Less Toxic Mobile Battery Solution
Solar Power As Rental Offer Launched By Aggreko
Dr Armin Froitzheim Becomes SOLARWATT Chief Technology Officer
Everoze Creates Skyray To Design And Engineer Great Solar PV Projects

Info
Info
×
Search the news archive

To close this popup you can press escape or click the close icon.
Logo
×
Logo
×
Register - Step 1

You may choose to subscribe to the Solar + Power Magazine, the Solar + Power Newsletter, or both. You may also request additional information if required, before submitting your application.


Please subscribe me to:

 

You chose the industry type of "Other"

Please enter the industry that you work in:
Please enter the industry that you work in:
 
X
Info
X
Info
{taasPodcastNotification}