Researchers convert solar energy into hydrogen fuel for storage

Researchers convert solar energy into hydrogen fuel for storage

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May 10, 2022 1 By Tami Hood

A research team at the University of Strathclyde aimed to take a fresh look at renewable power.

University of Strathclyde researchers say that solar energy can be converted into hydrogen fuel so that it can be stored as a renewable fuel.

This strategy makes it possible to produce H2 emission-free and store power generated by PV cells.

The researchers are aiming to find solutions for clean and affordable electricity in order to eliminate the reliance on fossil fuels and the greenhouse gas emissions produced through their use.

The UK Government has announced that among its plans to replace fossil fuels will be, to a large degree, will be to use storable hydrogen fuel. That said, to do this and also achieve decarbonization goals, the cost of hydrogen fuel made using renewable power will need to be brought to a competitive level.

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Currently, the majority of H2 is blue hydrogen, which is made using natural gas, which results in greenhouse gas emissions during the production, even if the use of the H2 itself is carbon emission-free. The UK will require a greater abundance of green hydrogen to be able to eliminate those emissions.

The study produced and stored green hydrogen using solar energy to power the process.

The study was published in the German Chemical Society journal Angewandte Chemie under the title “Photocatalytic Overall Water Splitting Under Visible Light Enabled by a Particulate Conjugated Polymer Loaded with Palladium and Iridium”. That research indicated that by using a photocatalyst under artificial sunlight, an electrolyzer could be operated with iridium or another appropriate metal catalyst.

The H2 produced through the method can be stored either in a hydrogen storage tank or underground can be used in a fuel cell to generate electricity that will power vehicles, heavy duty equipment and machinery, industry, and other applications.

“An abundant renewable energy resource to address the challenge of sustainable energy exists in the form of the Sun, with the energy reaching Earth’s surface eight thousand times greater than the entire annual global energy need of our societies,” said Strathclyde’s Dr. Sebastian Sprick, the principal investigator for the solar energy research.

“The reported photocatalyst can access solar energy through energetically unfavourable processes to generate a storable energy carrier in the form of hydrogen from water. The hydrogen then can be converted cleanly into electricity in a fuel cell with water being the only side-product.”