It’s possible to produce hydrogen to power fuel cells by extracting the gas from seawater, but the electricity required to do it makes the process costly. UCF researcher Yang Yang has come up with a new hybrid nanomaterial that harnesses solar energy and uses it to generate hydrogen from seawater more cheaply and efficiently than current materials.
The breakthrough could someday lead to a new source of the clean-burning fuel, ease demand for fossil fuels and boost the economy of Florida, where sunshine and seawater are abundant.
Yang, an assistant professor with joint appointments in the University of Central Florida’s NanoScience Technology Center and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, has been working on solar hydrogen splitting for nearly 10 years.
It’s done using a photocatalyst – a material that spurs a chemical reaction using energy from light. When he began his research, Yang focused on using solar energy to extract hydrogen from purified water. It’s a much more difficulty task with seawater; the photocatalysts needed aren’t durable enough to handle its biomass and corrosive salt.
As reported last week in the journal Energy & Environmental Science, Yang and his research team have developed a new catalyst that’s able to not only harvest a much broader spectrum of light than other materials, but also stand up to the harsh conditions found in seawater.
“We’ve opened a new window to splitting real water, not just purified water in a lab,” Yang said. “This really works well in seawater.”
Yang developed a method of fabricating a photocatalyst composed of a hybrid material. Tiny nanocavities were chemically etched onto the surface of an ultrathin film of titanium dioxide, the most common photocatalyst. Those nanocavity indentations were coated with nanoflakes of molybdenum disulfide, a two-dimensional material with the thickness of a single atom.
Typical catalysts are able to convert only a limited bandwidth of light to energy. With its new material, Yang’s team is able to significantly boost the bandwidth of light that can be harvested. By controlling the density of sulfur vacancy within the nanoflakes, they can produce energy from ultraviolet-visible to near-infrared light wavelengths, making it at least twice as efficient as current photocatalysts.
“We can absorb much more solar energy from the light than the conventional material,” Yang said. “Eventually, if it is commercialized, it would be good for Florida’s economy. We have a lot of seawater around Florida and a lot of really good sunshine.”
In many situations, producing a chemical fuel from solar energy is a better solution than producing electricity from solar panels, he said. That electricity must be used or stored in batteries, which degrade, while hydrogen gas is easily stored and transported.
Fabricating the catalyst is relatively easy and inexpensive. Yang’s team is continuing its research by focusing on the best way to scale up the fabrication, and further improve its performance so it’s possible to split hydrogen from wastewater.
The Latest on: Hydrogen from seawater
- TIFR desalinates seawater without electricityon July 13, 2019 at 11:55 am
Since the temperature reached is high, about 10% of seawater becomes steam (and hence drinking water ... into carbon dioxide converts it into methane in the presence of hydrogen. The hydrogen comes ...
- Energy Observer makes first stop on six-year journey powered by the sun, wind and hydrogenon July 9, 2019 at 5:00 pm
The vessel is a refurbished racing catamaran that is powered by wind, solar and hydrogen generated from seawater through electrolysis. The idea of a renewable energy-powered sea vessel isn't ...
- Edinburgh firm partners with EU project to make hydrogen fuel from seawateron July 9, 2019 at 6:11 am
A Scottish company at the cutting edge of hydrogen technology is partnering with a European project to convert seawater into sustainable hydrogen fuel for island regions. Edinburgh-based Logan Energy ...
- Millions of floating solar farms aim to repurpose seawater into synthetic fuelson June 18, 2019 at 11:07 am
Using photovoltaic cells, for example, researchers say the giant hubs could convert sunlight into electricity, which would then be used to power the extraction of hydrogen and CO2 from seawater. In a ...
- Giant Floating Solar Farms Could Extract CO2 From Seawater, Producing Methanol Fuelon June 14, 2019 at 2:53 pm
They would use photovoltaic cells that could convert solar energy into electricity. This would then power hydrogen production and carbon dioxide extraction from seawater. The gasses produced would ...
- Creative thinking: Researchers propose solar methanol island using ocean CO₂on June 6, 2019 at 10:53 am
Electrolysis is one way to make hydrogen gas, using electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Of course, the only water available to this plant is seawater, so it has to be desalinated ...
- Massive Artificial Islands Could Extract CO2 From Seawater To Produce Renewable Energy, Study Sayson June 3, 2019 at 5:22 pm
These “solar methanol islands” would be outfitted with solar and wind energy infrastructure capable of powering the production of hydrogen and the extraction of carbon dioxide (CO2) from seawater in ...
- GM's over-the-air updates, EPA's new math, hydrogen from seawater: Today's Car Newson May 21, 2019 at 8:30 am
The EPA plans to stop counting potential lives saved from new pollution rules. GM reveals a platform that's connected to the future. Stanford scientists devise a way to use seawater to make hydrogen.
- Seawater could bring breakthrough for hydrogen carson May 21, 2019 at 6:00 am
The biggest problem for hydrogen fuel-cell cars has been where to get a plentiful, affordable supply of hydrogen that doesn't contribute to greenhouse gas emissions. Now scientists may have come up ...
- Stanford researchers create hydrogen fuel from seawateron March 18, 2019 at 12:24 pm
Stanford researchers have devised a way to generate hydrogen fuel using solar power, electrodes and saltwater from San Francisco Bay. The findings, published March 18 in Proceedings of the National ...
via Google News and Bing News