London: Scientists have developed a new and efficient method of producing hydrogen fuel from sunlight and water.
Researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, led by Michael Gratzel, have developed methods for generating fuels such as hydrogen through solar water splitting.
To do this, they either use photoelectrochemical cells that directly split water into hydrogen and oxygen when exposed to sunlight, or they combine electricity—generating cells with an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules.
By using the latter technique, Gratzel’s post-doctoral student Jingshan Luo and his colleagues were able to obtain a spectacular performance.
Their device converts into hydrogen 12.3 per cent of the energy diffused by the Sun on perovskite absorbers — a compound that can be obtained in the laboratory from common materials, such as those used in conventional car batteries, eliminating the need for rare-earth metals in the production of usable hydrogen fuel.
This high efficiency provides stiff competition for other techniques used to convert solar energy, researchers said.