Researchers use solar energy to produce hydrogen fuel

September 16, 2015 0 By Bret Williams
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Research team develops new system that can store solar power in the form of hydrogen

Researchers from the have developed a new system to split water into hydrogen and oxygen using solar energy. The research endeavor has been sponsored by the Department of Energy, which is constantly looking for ways to use solar power to produce clean fuels. Hydrogen could also serve as an effective chemical storage solution for solar energy and producing hydrogen fuel through the use of solar power is more environmentally friendly than conventional forms of hydrogen production.

The project aims to make solar power more attractive

The research project is meant to find ways to solve the intermittency problems that the solar energy sector is facing. Because the sun cannot be used to generate electrical power all day long, finding ways to store the energy that can be generated during the day is becoming more important. The new system that the research team has developed aims to provide a better way to store solar power in order to make this form of renewable energy more attractive and viable.

New system makes use of silicon wafers covered in cobalt nano-islands

Research - Solar Energy and HydrogenThe system makes use of silicon wafers that are capable of absorbing sunlight. These wafers are equipped with electrodes and are then submerged in water while being expose to the sun. As a whole, the system is somewhat more different than more conventional ways to produce hydrogen using solar energy. Conventional systems make use of silicon wafers that are covered in a catalyst layer, which allows for hydrogen production. In this new system, however, the wafers are affixed with small “nano-islands” that are formed from cobalt.

Producing hydrogen through the use of solar energy could be a boon for clean transportation

Using solar energy to produce hydrogen could have major implications for clean transportation. Much of the auto industry has become involved in the development of fuel cell vehicles, which use hydrogen as their primary source of fuel. Effective ways to produce hydrogen fuel could help ensure the success of these vehicles among consumers.