This report documents the mid-term progress towards the project’s aims of demonstrating the production of hydrogen using a concentrated PV receiver that leverages the heat and electricity generated to power an electrolyser with novel catalyst materials.
Photovoltaic electrolysis (PVE) is a promising approach to produce renewable hydrogen (H2) for export from sunlight and water. However, the barriers of PVE uptake, including expensive precious-metal electrodes, external heat sources and low stability make adoption impractical. This project aims to enable enhanced conversion efficiency of renewable primary energy (solar) to hydrogen by developing a low-cost, highly efficient, integrated PVE system to harvest the electricity and heat produced by a concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) receiver which will power an alkaline water electrolyser. The heat harnessed will be transferred to the electrolyser (made of earth-abundant electro/photo-catalysts) to lower the reversible potential of water splitting, increase the reaction kinetics and decrease the system resistance which will lead to an enhanced catalytic performance. The solar UV light will also be harnessed to activate the semiconductor co-catalysts, which will increase the current density, lower the overpotentials and deliver additional improvements to the performance of the PVE system.
The expected project outcome is the development of a new low-cost PVE system with a genuine solar-to-hydrogen (STH) efficiency >30% and proven stability (> 1000 h).