Scientists Improve Photoelectrochemical Hydrogen Production System Using Concentrated Solar Radiation and Temperature Control.
In sunny weather, the new device can produce up to 1 kg of hydrogen (11.1 m3) per day, converting solar energy into H2 with a conversion rate of 17%. This volume is enough for a car on hydrogen fuel to travel 100-150 km..
The development of researchers from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne is a parabolic mirror with a diameter of 7 m, which concentrates radiation 1000 times. This achieves high power and current density. Efficiency gains are also achieved thanks to the temperature management system.
In the device, a thin layer of water flows through the photocell, constantly cooling it down.
The system temperature remains relatively low, which ensures the best solar cell performance. At the same time, the heat accumulated by the water is transferred to the catalysts, thereby improving the chemical reaction and accelerating the production of hydrogen..
The solar concentrator also pivots to follow the sun in the sky to maximize radiation collection.
The lab test results were promising, so the device has been scaled up and is already being tested outdoors. According to scientists, the system will be able to operate over 30 thousand hours without replacement of parts, and up to 20 years, if some elements are replaced every four years.
The team plans to continue further development of the project as a division of SoHHytec. As part of the research, the scientists also performed a feasibility study and developed the open source SPECDO software that helps engineers develop components for low-cost photoelectrochemical systems..
Record solar hydrogen production with concentrated sunlight
In March, Belgian engineers announced the development of a solar a panel that not only generates electricity, but also extracts from atmospheric moisture about 250 liters of hydrogen per day.
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: EPFL