Generate Hydrogen Directly From Solar Cells

Instead of using the sun’s rays to generate electricity and then use excess electricity to generate hydrogen, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have skipped a step and produced hydrogen directly from sunlight.

Using a photochemical cell (PEC), photons of light can split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen at a 12.5% efficiency. But the cell has proven to be costly and unstable due to rapid corrosion of the metal in the cell, prompting Professor Daniel V. Esposito and his team at NIST to opt for a cheaper and more stable system.

They have already conducted tests on a silicon-based metal-insulator semiconductor (MIS), which still utilises expensive metals like titanium and platinum, but are less prone to corrosion and thus are more economical in the long term, albeit performing with a lower efficiency of 2.9%.

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