World record for direct solar water-splitting efficiency

Researchers have increased the efficiency of producing hydrogen from direct solar water-splitting to a record 19 percent. They combined a tandem solar cell of III-V semiconductors with a catalyst of rhodium nanoparticles and a crystalline titanium dioxide coating. Teams from the California Institute of Technology, the University of Cambridge, Technische Universität Ilmenau, and the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE participated in the development work. One part of the experiments took place at the Institute for Solar Fuels in the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin.

Commentary from GoatGuy

IF the researchers can figure out how to

1) up the durability to 20,000+ hours
2) keep the efficiency near 18% for the whole cell life
3) not require exotic hyper-pure electrolytes
4) ensure the inexpensiveness of manufacturing is achieved

THEN this becomes a real “game changer” for the PV community. PV-to-gas-fuel direct.
Kind of solves the “storage problem” of electricity.

And ironically, it also solves the “grid-can’t-take-it” issues. Pipes can carry a LOT of hydrogen, buried 5 meters underground. No worries about DC grids, or phase matching, or load leveling, or incipient weather phenomena. No worries about demand-matching, inter TIE carrier politics, or anything else.

Links to Research Papers

Arxiv – Monolithic Photoelectrochemical Device for 19% Direct Water Splitting

Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.

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