Scientists from Forschungszentrum Juelich have developed the first complete and compact design for an artificial photosynthesis facility. This is a decisive step towards applying the technology. The concept is flexible both with respect to the materials used and also the size of the system. The researchers have now published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
In future, sun and wind will supply the lion’s share of our energy. The fluctuating nature of these renewable energy sources means that current research is focusing more intensively on efficient storage technologies. Like the energy sources themselves, these technologies should be environmentally friendly and affordable. This trend is particularly apparent in research on direct photoelectrochemical water splitting, that is to say artificial photosynthesis employing a combination of solar cell and electrolyser. In this way, solar energy can be directly converted into the universal storage medium of hydrogen. This process was first investigated in the 1970s, but has only begun to attract increasing attention in recent years. As yet, research has focused on materials science for new absorber materials and catalysts to further improve efficiency.
Juelich solar cell researchers Jan-Philipp Becker and Bugra Turan, however, are concentrating on an aspect that has so far largely been neglected: a realistic design that can take this technology from the scientists’ laboratories and put it into practical applications. “To date, photoelectrochemical water splitting has only ever been tested on a laboratory scale,” explains Burga Turan. “The individual components and materials have been improved, but nobody has actually tried to achieve a real application.”
Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2016-09-artificial-photosynthesis-photoelectrochemical.html#jCp