Stanford researchers have developed an inexpensive device that uses light to split water into oxygen and clean-burning hydrogen.
The goal is to supplement solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that can generate electricity when the sun isn’t shining or demand is high.
Stanford University scientists have created a silicon-based water splitter that is both low-cost and corrosion-free. The novel device – a silicon semiconductor coated in an ultrathin layer of nickel – could help pave the way for large-scale production of clean hydrogen fuel from sunlight, according to the scientists. Their results are published in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Science.
“Solar cells only work when the sun is shining,” said study co-author Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “When there’s no sunlight, utilities often have to rely on electricity from conventional power plants that run on coal or natural gas.”
A greener solution, Dai explained, is to supplement the solar cells with hydrogen-powered fuel cells that generate electricity at night or when demand is especially high.
To produce clean hydrogen for fuel cells, scientists have turned to an emerging technology called water splitting. Two semiconducting electrodes are connected and placed in water. The electrodes absorb light and use the energy to split the water into its basic components, oxygen and hydrogen. The oxygen is released into the atmosphere, and the hydrogen is stored as fuel.
When energy is needed, the process is reversed. The stored hydrogen and atmospheric oxygen are combined in a fuel cell to generate electricity and pure water.
The entire process is sustainable and emits no greenhouse gases. But finding a cheap way to split water has been a major challenge. Today, researchers continue searching for inexpensive materials that can be used to build water splitters efficient enough to be of practical use.
“Silicon, which is widely used in solar cells, would be an ideal, low-cost material,” said Stanford graduate student Michael J. Kenney, co-lead author of the Science study. “But silicon degrades in contact with an electrolyte solution. In fact, a submerged electrode made of silicon corrodes as soon as the water-splitting reaction starts.”
In 2011, another Stanford research team addressed this challenge by coating silicon electrodes with ultrathin layers of titanium dioxide and iridium. That experimental water splitter produced hydrogen and oxygen for eight hours without corroding.
“Those were inspiring results, but for practical water splitting, longer-term stability is needed,” Dai said. “Also, the precious metal iridium is costly. A non-precious metal catalyst would be desirable.”
To find a low-cost alternative, Dai suggested that Kenney and his colleagues try coating silicon electrodes with ordinary nickel. “Nickel is corrosion-resistant,” Kenney said. “It’s also an active oxygen-producing catalyst, and it’s earth-abundant. That makes it very attractive for this type of application.”
Go deeper with Bing News on:
Low-cost water splitter
- Introducing The Raspberry Pi 3on February 20, 2021 at 4:00 pm
This is the Revolver and Fargo of the Raspberry Pi Ecosystem When the original Raspberry Pi launched four years ago, it immediately fulfilled its promise of bringing a low-cost Linux-based ...
- OpsiTech passes Telcordia Testson February 17, 2021 at 4:00 pm
OpsiTech, a supplier of high-performance and low-cost integrated optical components and modules ... cyclic Mux/Demux, VOA arrays and splitters will be on display at OFC, Booth # 3648.
- Gold-Rich High-Grade Zone Extended at Kharmagtaion February 17, 2021 at 4:33 am
We give investors exposure to globally significant, large scale copper-gold discoveries and low-cost inventory growth. Xanadu maintains a portfolio of exploration projects and remains one of the ...
- Self Built Interferometer Measures Nanometer Displacementon February 15, 2021 at 3:59 pm
[jrcgarry] used beam splitters from BluRay drives, mirrors from ebay and a 5mw laser diode. We’ve covered the use of interferometers before. But never an instrument built from scratch like this.
- 15 Best Fishing Pliers For All Anglerson February 9, 2021 at 3:48 pm
There are ring splitter jaw tips for easily switching ... totaling to a pretty awesome overall value considering the low cost here. The Piscifun Aluminum Fishing Pliers are an awesome affordable ...
Go deeper with Google Headlines on:
Low-cost water splitter
Go deeper with Bing News on:
- Holly Madison and 'Ghost Adventures' star split after 2 years togetheron February 25, 2021 at 11:42 am
Holly Madison 's relationship with "Ghost Adventures" star Zak Bagans is now a thing of the past. The two have reportedly broken up after nearly two years together. TMZ said the Playboy model and Zac ...
- Parksville city council approves spending $235,000 for ERWS water treatment planton February 25, 2021 at 9:59 am
Mayor Ed Mayne believes the Englishman River Water Service (ERWS) water treatment plant is experiencing “growing pains.” On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Parksville city council unanimously approved the ...
- Congress on Track to Approve Millions More in Federal Funding for Water Debt Reliefon February 25, 2021 at 9:17 am
First-ever federal program for household water-bill assistance could see another $500 million. B, Circle of Blue Even before an initial round of funding is distributed to states and tribes, Congress ...
- Coons: Commission Into Jan. 6 Insurrection Should Be Evenly Split Along Party Lineson February 25, 2021 at 8:01 am
Chris Coons (D-Del.) supports a Jan. 6 commission comprised of an equal number of both Republicans and Democrats. CNN’s John Berman asked Coons on Thursday how bipartisan the commission should be, and ...
- Aqua Aerem to extract water from desert air and convert it to hydrogenon February 24, 2021 at 9:34 pm
A new project in the Australian Outback will trial an innovative technique for converting solar energy into hydrogen by capturing moisture from the air and splitting it via hydrolysis, making it ...