SANTA BARBARA, Calif.—A company in California has used hydrogen produced from only sunlight and water to generate electricity in a fuel cell.
HyperSolar, Inc., the developer of technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, combined small components of solar cell material in nano-size, self-contained photoelectrochemical particles and integrated them into tiny electrolysis particles coated with “secret” encapsulation materials.
These particles can be submerged directly into water and will automatically produce hydrogen in the presence of sunlight.
In May the company completed a proof-of-concept prototype particle which protects the particle in corrosive environments, such as waste and acidic water, allowing for the production of renewable hydrogen from virtually any source of water, without pre-treatment.
HyperSolar submerged these particles in a low cost plastic bag reactor filled with wastewater obtained from the Salton Sea in California, which has salinity greater than the Pacific Ocean.
During the day, water molecules split into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which filled up the plastic bag. The hydrogen was extracted from the bag, stored and used in a conventional fuel cell that converted the hydrogen into electricity on demand. Unlike conventional solar panel systems that only produce electricity when the sun is shining, a renewable hydrogen solar power system creates and stores hydrogen during the day and produces electricity day or night as needed.
Watch this demonstration:
Particles in this video contain centimeter-size photoelectrochemically active heterostructure units fabricated from solar cell materials with HyperSolar’s electrocatalysts and encapsulation materials.
Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar, said his firm is in talks with potential partners to build larger demonstration systems that will produce renewable hydrogen for electricity generation, as well as hydrogen car fueling stations.