Two women graduate students lead the development of the world’s first system using solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.
If we can use solar power to split water into hydrogen and oxygen, the world will know infinite, clean energy supplies, solving a critical issue in environmental sustainability. Now, two Technion students, Avigail Landman and Rawan Halabi, have pioneered the prototype.
We provide a way to produce hydrogen fuel in a clean process that takes only water and solar energy and converts them to clean hydrogen fuel with no other byproducts, except for oxygen.
The innovative system contains a tandem cell solar device, which enables more efficient use of the light spectrum. The sun’s radiation is absorbed in the upper layer, which is made of semi-transparent iron oxide.
The excess radiation is subsequently absorbed by a photovoltaic cell. Together, the two layers of the system provide the energy needed to split water molecules.
The system builds on breakthrough research from 2017 where the Technion team, led by Profs. Gideon Grader and Avner Rothschild, introduced a paradigm shift in hydrogen production. Instead of one production cell where water is broken down into hydrogen and oxygen, the revolutionary system forms hydrogen and oxygen in two completely different cells, thus avoiding an explosive reaction. The researchers presented the proof of concept in a laboratory system operated with a conventional power source.
One application could be to fuel electric vehicles that run on hydrogen gas and produce water in the exhaust pipeline instead of toxic gases.
-Prof. Avner Rothschild
In the latest development, the research is applied in a photoelectrochemical prototype system that produces hydrogen and oxygen in two separate cells using only sunlight. Over approximately 80 working hours (10 eight-hour days), the system demonstrated efficiency in natural sunlight.
The research was supported by theGrand Technion Energy Program (GTEP), Mr. Ed Satell, the Adelis Foundation, the Ministry of Energy and an ERC grant. The research was supervised jointly by Prof. Avner Rothschild of the Faculty of Materials Science and Engineering and Prof. Gideon Grader of the Wolfson Faculty of Chemical Engineering. Dr. Paula Dias and Prof. Adelio Mendes of the University of Porto in Portugal contributed to the research