Advanced process for efficient hydrogen production through photoelectrochemical solar water splitting based on a new photoelectrochemical cell design and a new module architecture
A German university research team specialized in photoelectrochemical processes has advanced the method of solar water splitting which generates energy dense hydrogen without harmful waste products. The invention refers to a new photoelectrochemical cell design with a novel arrangement of electrodes and membranes and thus, an improved, much more efficient module architecture for the photoelectrochemical solar water splitting process. Seeking technical cooperation / patent licensing or purchase.
The invention is directed to companies in the chemical sector, but also in the hydrogen industry or in decentralized hydrogen production. The team is interested in technical cooperation and thus, is looking for partners for joint further development of application-based products. Alternatively, licensing or purchasing of the patent could an option as well.
Hydrogen is an important raw material for chemical processes e.g. crude oil refining, production of fertiliser or synthetic fuels. But it gains increasing attention as a source for renewable energy generation and storage. Hydrogen is considered to be the ideal energy carrier. It has a high energy density and produces only pure water as a waste product when burned. Currently, hydrogen is mainly produced by the rather environmentally unfriendly method of steam methane reforming or through expensive water electrolysis. An alternative method for the production of hydrogen without harmful waste products represents the method of direct solar water splitting. But until now hydrogen production process control as well as safety are still a challenge. In addition, hydrogen production efficiency still doesn’t achieve economic viability. In order to solve this problem, a research team of a German University has developed a new photoelectrochemical cell design with a novel arrangement of electrodes and membranes and thus, an improved, much more efficient module architecture for the process of photoelectrochemical solar water splitting. In principle, sunlight is absorbed by a semiconductor anode which releases free charge carriers, whose energy is then used to split water into hydrogen and oxygen within an aqueous electrolyte. The new system represents a highly efficiently designed photoelectrochemical cell which allows about 14-19% of the solar energy to be stored in the hydrogen. The process generates high electric current and gas bubble densities; thus, the module design is crucial for achieving a high module efficiency. By integrating the counter electrode as well as the gas separation and gas discharge elements into the module cover gas bubbles are quickly discharged and the transport paths of the ions are minimised. Integrated prisms reduce the shadowing caused by the counter electrode in the module cover, therefore the photoelectrochemical cell is efficiently exposed to sunlight. The invention is directed to companies in the chemical sector, but also in the hydrogen industry or in decentralized hydrogen production. The team is interested in technical cooperation and thus, is looking for partners for joint further development of application-based products. Alternatively, licensing or purchasing of the patent could an option as well.
Advantages and innovations
Compared to existing systems the highly-efficient photoelectrochemical cell design achieves increased levels of energy yields. 14-19% of incident solar energy are stored in the chemical bonds of hydrogen. High electric current and gas bubble densities, which lower the performance of the system, are limited through the innovative module architecture. In addition, the transport paths of the ions are minimised by integrating the counter electrode as well as the gas separation and gas discharge elements into the module cover. Bubbles are quickly eliminated. The novel cell design achieves high efficiencies also at module level. Shadowing of the photoelectrochemical cell through the counter electrode is reduced by using prisms, which results in an efficient light exposure. Compared to traditional architectures, the cell area can be as large as desired.
Available for demonstration
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Patent(s) applied for but not yet granted
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