Research sets new record for generation of fuels from sunlight

sunny
Credit: Marina Shemesh/public domain

Researchers at Monash University have designed a solar fuel generating device that has established a new record in energy efficiency for the production of solar fuels.

The new device can produce at 22 per cent , breaking the previous record of 18 per cent.

Lead researcher Professor Leone Spiccia in the School of Chemistry at Monash explained that the process of splitting water generates and oxygen by passing an electric current through water.

"Electrochemical splitting of water could provide a cheap, clean and renewable source of hydrogen as the ultimately sustainable fuel. This latest breakthrough is significant in that it takes us one step further towards this becoming a reality," Professor Spiccia said.

Co-author, Professor Doug MacFarlane, ARC Laureate Fellow and leader of the Energy Program of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science at Monash, attributed the breakthrough to the advanced expertise of the research team in water splitting and how to tune the process to work most effectively with high-efficiency commercial solar cells.

Professor MacFarlane explained how hydrogen is the ultimate in clean fuels since it contains no carbon and produces no carbon dioxide.

"Hydrogen can be used to generate electricity directly in fuel cells. Cars driven by fuel cell electric engines are becoming available from a number of car manufacturers. Hydrogen could even be used as an inexpensive storage technology at the household level to store energy from roof-top solar cells," Professor MacFarlane said.

The ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science is a group of more than 100 researchers across six locations in Australia, whose goal is to make cheaper and more accessible, to help society cope with the increasingly serious climate change and ocean acidification issues stemming from fossil use.

The research was published in the leading journal Energy and Environmental Science.


Explore further

Artificial Photosynthesis: Creating fuel from sunlight

More information: "Renewable Fuels from Concentrated Solar Power: Towards Practical Artificial Photosynthesis." Energy Environ. Sci., 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C5EE02214B
Journal information: Energy and Environmental Science

Provided by Monash University
Citation: Research sets new record for generation of fuels from sunlight (2015, August 17) retrieved 21 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-08-fuels-sunlight.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
88 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 17, 2015
The light here is really on the failure of fossil fuels and the promise of alternatives to ecological filth.

Aug 17, 2015
22 percent efficient you say. I think I'll take a Telsa wall instead. Only $3000 more and I'll be off the grid.

Aug 18, 2015
Seeing as the fresh air 'Otto' cycle about which the current internal combustion piston engines are based is about five percent efficient give a take a few. This 22 percent device sounds like Heaven.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more