Researchers at Rice University have developed an efficient, low-cost device that splits water to produce hydrogen fuel.
Developed by the Brown School of Engineering lab of Rice Materials Scientist Jun Lou, the platform 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%.
Although this type of catalyst isn’t new, 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.
“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.”
Perovskites are crystals with cube-like lattices that are known to harvest light. The most efficient perovskite solar cells produced so far achieve an efficiency above 25%, but the materials are expensive and tend to be stressed by light, humidity and heat.
Jon explains that along with lead author Jia Liang, they have replaced the more expensive components in the solar cells with alternatives like carbon.
“That lowers the entry barrier for commercial adoption. Integrated devices like this are promising because they create a system that is sustainable,” Lou explains.
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.
Molly Burgess is the News Journalist at H2 View. Molly is primarily responsible for North American news and exclusives across the website and looks forward to hearing from you – and telling your story.
World news – US – Researchers develop new device to produce hydrogen fuel