Pinpointing Cleaner, Greener Hydrogen Production | AIChE

Renewable energy can be used to split water molecules to produce clean hydrogen fuel. One method uses sunlight to perform electrolysis of water, also known as photoelectrolysis. This process involves a photoelectrode containing a photoanode and photocathode, much like a battery, as well as a semiconductor material.

The semiconductor absorbs sunlight and converts it to electrons, which are then transported to the photoelectrode surface. The electrons react with the water on the photocathode side to release hydrogen and on the photoanode side to release oxygen. The separated hydrogen is then collected for use as fuel. However, photoelectrolysis is extremely costly, and not very efficient.

Researchers at the Univ. of Texas at Austin (UT-Austin) have developed a modified photoanode that lowers the cost of performing one step of photoelectrolysis. To do this, the UT-Austin team had to overcome a major technical challenge — the semiconductors within the photoanode are typically easily degraded by water, which can lower efficiency and increase cost.

To solve this issue, the researchers coated their semiconductor with a protective film that prevents degradation from water, but allows electrons to travel to the...

Would you like to access the complete CEP News Update?

No problem. You just have to complete the following steps.

You have completed 0 of 2 steps.

  1. Log in

    You must be logged in to view this content. Log in now.

  2. AIChE Membership

    You must be an AIChE member to view this article. Join now.

Copyright Permissions 

Would you like to reuse content from CEP Magazine? It’s easy to request permission to reuse content. Simply click here to connect instantly to licensing services, where you can choose from a list of options regarding how you would like to reuse the desired content and complete the transaction.

Related Topics