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Current Affairs

Splitting hydrogen and water using solar power

Date: 27 August 2020 Tags: Energy

Issue

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have discovered a new material to split hydrogen and water, using solar power.

 

Background

The research is expected to bring the conversion and storage part in a single system, which would reduce the cost per kWh of solar energy.

 

Details

  • A single photoelectrochemical system that can harness and store solar energy in the form of chemical fuel can reduce the cost of per kWh solar energy.

  • Solar energy conversion to electricity and its storage at low cost, is an integral part of renewable energy research.

  • The research aims to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and in turn move out of anthropogenic greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide.

  • It is an immediate requirement to develop low-cost solar energy conversion and storage systems that can produce energy equal to, or lower than the cost of grid power.

  • Halide perovskite completely absorbs the entire visible light and remains extremely stable in ambient.

  • It was also found to be stable in strong acids and bases. Using the material’s stability he combined solar energy conversion and storage in the form of chemical fuels.

  • Then using sunlight, and with a photo-electrochemical device made with halide perovskite, the team was able to successfully split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

 

Thermochemical water splitting

  • Thermochemical water splitting processes use high-temperature heat (500°–2,000°C) to drive a series of chemical reactions that produce hydrogen.

  • The chemicals used in the process are reused within each cycle, creating a closed loop that consumes only water and produces hydrogen and oxygen.

  • Numerous solar thermochemical water-splitting cycles have been investigated for hydrogen production, each with different sets of operating conditions, engineering challenges, and hydrogen production opportunities. 

 

Challenges

  • The efficiency and durability of reactant materials for thermochemical cycling need to be improved.

  • Efficient and robust reactor designs compatible with high temperatures and heat cycling need to be developed.

  • For solar thermochemical systems, the cost of the concentrating mirror systems needs to be reduced.