Generating hydrogen from solar energy

Generating hydrogen from solar energy
Developing a photoelectrochemical device capable of producing hydrogen from solar energy.

The Horizon 2020 funded FotoH2 project, co-ordinated by the University of Alicante, Spain, is working to develop a photoelectrochemical device capable of producing hydrogen from solar energy.

A current challenge of the 21st century is to solve the growing energy demand to cope with the depletion of fossil fuels, as well as reducing CO2 emissions. Artificial photosynthesis is presented as one of the most sustainable techniques to gain hydrogen from solar energy and water.

Roberto Gómez, from the University of Alicante’s department of physical chemistry, said: “Artificial photosynthesis is one of the alternatives that can help reduce our dependence on non-renewable energies. With this in mind, the project is developed to design a device for converting solar energy into chemical energy (hydrogen from water photoelectrolysis) that also provides a method to accumulate energy.”

Technology innovation

The approach adopted by the FotoH2 project is highly innovative, as the design of the device is in the form of flat panels and the polymeric electrolyte membranes, also used in other electrochemical devices such as water electrolysers or fuel cells.

The project is also planned to make the device produce pure and dry hydrogen with cells built from abundant materials. Gómez said: “In order for hydrogen to be economically competitive with conventional technologies, we must reduce, on the one hand, the costs associated with its production; on the other, the risks involved in its transport and storage.”

Locating renewable energy efficiently is one of the most developing lines of research. In this regard, solar radiation provides energy to the Earth with an intensity of 120,000 TW, an amount that is higher than the technological consumption made by man by four orders of magnitude.

Gómez added: “It is, therefore, attractive to address energy demand with renewable energy sources from the point of view of photochemical conversion and accumulation of solar energy.”

Source: University of Alicante

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