Hydrogen Production from Solar Energy: Direct Water Splitting

Direct water splitting is a promising solar-to-hydrogen pathway for, offering the potential for high conversion efficiency at low operating temperatures using cost-effective thin-film and/or particle semiconductor materials.

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting has been attracting significant attention lately due to its utilization of solar energy for green hydrogen production. In photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting, hydrogen is produced from water using sunlight and specialized semiconductors called photoelectrochemical materials, which use light energy to directly dissociate water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

How does it work?

The semiconductor materials used in the PEC process are similar to those used in photovoltaic solar electricity generation, but for PEC applications the semiconductor is immersed in a water-based electrolyte, where sunlight energizes the water-splitting process.

PEC reactors can be constructed in panel form (similar to photovoltaic panels) as electrode systems or as slurry-based particle systems, each approach with its own advantages and challenges. To date, panel systems have been the most widely studied, owing to the similarities with established photovoltaic panel technologies, however different possible implementations of both the panel and slurry reactor concepts are under investigation. Both approaches are still at a laboratory scale and require significant development at both the reactor and system level to achieve commercialization.

Fig: PEC Direct Water Splitting using Solar Radiation
Fig: PEC Direct Water Splitting using Solar Radiation

How can this Hydrogen be used

Hydrogen can be used in fuel cells to generate power using a chemical reaction rather than combustion, producing only water and heat as byproducts. It can be used in cars, in houses, for portable power, and in many more applications.

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Keyword: Hydrogen, Renewable Energy, Biomass, Hydrogen Production, Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Green Hydrogen

Link: http://ieahydrogen.org/pdfs/IEA-HTCP-Task-35-FINAL-REPORT_v4.aspx

Link: https://www.energy.gov/eere/fuelcells/hydrogen-production-photoelectrochemical-water-splitting