A solar cell that produces fuel rather than electricity. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and FOM Foundation today present a very promising prototype of this in the journal Nature Communications.
The material gallium phosphide enables their solar cell to produce the clean fuel hydrogen gas from liquid water. Processing the gallium phosphide in the form of very small nanowires is novel and helps to boost the yield by a factor of ten. And does so using ten thousand times less precious material.
The electricity produced by a solar cell can be used to set off chemical reactions. If this generates a fuel, then one speaks of solar fuels – a hugely promising replacement for polluting fuels. One of the possibilities is to split liquid water using the electricity that is generated (electrolysis). Among oxygen, this produces hydrogen gas that can be used as a clean fuel in the chemical industry or combusted in fuel cells – in cars for example – to drive engines.
Solar fuel cell
To connect an existing silicon solar cell to a battery that splits the water may well be an efficient solution now but it is a very expensive one. Many researchers are therefore targeting their search at a semiconductor material that is able to both convert sunlight into an electrical charge and split the water, all in one; a kind of ‘solar fuel cell’. Researchers at TU/e and FOM see their dream candidate in gallium phosphide (GaP), a compound of gallium and phosphide that also serves as the basis for specific colored leds.
A tenfold boost
GaP has good electrical properties but the drawback that it cannot easily absorb light when it is a large flat surface as used in GaP solar cells. The researchers have overcome this problem by making a grid of very small GaP nanowires, measuring five hundred nanometers (a millionth of a millimeter) long and ninety nanometers thick. This immediately boosted the yield of hydrogen by a factor of ten to 2.9 percent. A record for GaP cells, even though this is still some way off the fifteen percent achieved by silicon cells coupled to a battery.
Ten thousand times less material
According to research leader and TU/e professor Erik Bakkers, it’s not simply about the yield – where there is still a lot of scope for improvement he points out: “For the nanowires we needed ten thousand less precious GaP material than in cells with a flat surface. That makes these kinds of cells potentially a great deal cheaper,” Bakkers says.
“In addition, GaP is also able to extract oxygen from the water – so you then actually have a fuel cell in which you can temporarily store your solar energy. In short, for a solar fuels future we cannot ignore gallium phosphide any longer.”
The Latest on: Slar fuel cell
via Google News
The Latest on: Solar fuel cell
- Toyota tests maritime hydrogen fuel cell tech in Energy Observer catamaranon February 3, 2020 at 2:21 pm
When able, the boat uses solar and wind energy to directly power the propulsion. For short interruptions such as cloudy weather, energy stored in the lithium-ion batteries takes over, while the ...
- This Louisville Researcher Is Betting On Solar-Powered Hydrogen Fuelon February 3, 2020 at 3:43 am
solar, nuclear, and other renewable technologies are bolstered by hydrogen. He imagines existing natural gas pipelines retrofitted to carry hydrogen. And as for transportation, Heimgartner foresees ...
- 5 Things Fuel Cell Investors Need to Knowon January 28, 2020 at 9:17 am
Travis Hoium has been writing for fool.com since July 2010 and covers the solar industry, renewable energy, and gaming stocks among other things. Follow @TravisHoium Fuel cell stocks have been on fire ...
- Thin Film Solar Cells Market – Detailed Analysis of Current Industry Figures with Forecasts Growth By 2024on January 27, 2020 at 8:06 am
Market Study Report has added a new report on Thin Film Solar Cells market that provides a comprehensive review of this industry with respect to the driving forces influencing the market size.
- The Smart Cell Turning Solar Energy Into Hydrogenon January 26, 2020 at 3:20 pm
Researchers have created a new cell that converts light from the sun into storable hydrogen, a potentially huge development in the renewable energy space ...
- Daily on Energy: Wind and solar industries plan on taking market share regardless of federal policyon January 23, 2020 at 8:24 am
WIND AND SOLAR INDUSTRIES PLAN ON TAKING MARKET SHARE REGARDLESS OF FEDERAL POLICY ... Their push includes nearly $300 million in new funding for clean transportation technologies, including ...
- This new finding could make solar energy more efficienton January 23, 2020 at 3:23 am
The finding is a major step forward for cleaner fuel for cars and trucks ... and can harness more than 50% more solar energy than current solar cells can. The finding could help humans transition ...
- The fuel cell market has been growing steadily over the past three years. In 2017, the fuel cell market was where the solar cell market was in 2002on January 22, 2020 at 2:36 pm
Fuel Cell Market. The fuel cell market has been growing steadily over the past three years. In 2017, the fuel cell market was where the solar cell market was in 2002. Solar is one of the fastest ...
- Harnessing the Entire Spectrum of Sunlight to Make Solar Energy More Efficienton January 22, 2020 at 5:06 am
a clean alternative to fuel for things like gas-powered vehicles. This new molecule collects energy from the entire visible spectrum, and can harness more than 50% more solar energy than current solar ...
- Judge rescinds Santa Clara’s new fuel cell ruleson January 21, 2020 at 2:19 pm
A judge ruled that the city needs to do an environmental study before it can implement rules requiring fuel cell users to use renewable fuels.
via Bing News