A team of Japanese researchers, led by the University of Tokyo and the Artificial Photosynthetic Chemical Process Technology Research Association (ARPChem), has achieved a significant breakthrough in the field of solar water splitting.
They have developed a system with a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency exceeding 10%. This achievement was made possible through the use of a photoelectrode featuring a tantalum nitride nanorod structure and a dual copper-indium-selenium (CuInSe2) solar cell. The process utilizes a platinum-nickel electrocatalyst to facilitate hydrogen generation. Remarkably, their tandem configuration of these components has resulted in a reproducible solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of around 12%, marking a new high among photocatalytic materials. Despite the promising implications for potential commercial use, the researchers have emphasized the need for further research to improve the stability and protection of the photoanode component.
NewHydrogen, in collaboration with UC Santa Barbara, is also contributing to the advancement of green hydrogen production. Their focus is on developing an efficient thermochemical water splitting process using heat. CEO Steve Hill highlighted the cost-effectiveness of utilizing renewable heat sources like concentrated solar, geothermal energy, and waste heat from industrial processes and power plants.
Meanwhile, researchers from the University of Warwick and the University of Manchester, working together, have revealed a surprising aspect of graphene’s properties. They have demonstrated that graphene’s dense crystalline structure enhances its permeability to protons. By employing scanning electrochemical cell microscopy (SECCM), they found that proton transport is accelerated around nanoscale wrinkles in the graphene structure. This discovery has significant implications for proton transport and permeation through the crystal lattice of two-dimensional materials like graphene.
In a separate development, the German company Schmid Group has secured an equipment order from an undisclosed green hydrogen company. This order is for equipment that will play a crucial role in one of the world’s largest electrolysis factories. The equipment involves wet chemical plant systems, which will be installed in the first half of 2024. These systems are integral to the production of stainless steel components that are later assembled into stacks. These stacks, in turn, are integrated into the electrolysers responsible for green hydrogen production.
In conclusion, these recent advancements in the field of hydrogen production and proton transport demonstrate the ongoing efforts and achievements of researchers and companies alike. The Japanese team’s breakthrough in solar water splitting, NewHydrogen’s focus on thermochemical processes, graphene’s unexpected permeability, and Schmid Group’s contribution to large-scale electrolysis all contribute to the growing momentum of sustainable energy research and development.
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