The goal of this New Photocathodes for Solar Hydrogen Production project is to develop an inexpensive, conceptually new system for the conversion of solar energy into hydrogen.
The levelised cost of renewable energy is slowly decreasing. At the same time, the fraction of renewable energy vectors in the overall energy mix is increasing. This causes a major problem in energy distribution and management since the intermittency of renewable energies (eg. wind, solar) causes a mismatch of supply and demand. Converting renewable energy in a storable fuel would solve this problem and further lower the levelised cost of renewable energy.
The overarching goal of this New Photocathodes for Solar Hydrogen Production project is to develop an inexpensive, conceptually new system for the conversion of solar energy into hydrogen. It is advancing research into new conducting polymer-based nanoarchitectures, the synthesis of qantum dots and catalyst molecules, theoretical modelling of catalysts and the application of advanced characterisation methods.
In both areas, materials research and characterisation, collaboration with German partners is imperative. The company Enthone GmbH and the GSI Helmholtz Centre will contribute materials and methods for the fabrication of three-dimensional conducting polymer nanostructures. The Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems will characterise photoelectrodes electronically, optically and morphologically.
The key innovation of the the project comprises the use of inexpensive polymers for solar fuel generation.
On successful completion of the project, the researchers expect the following outcomes:
- Reduction in the levelised cost of solar energy, which will help to bridge the gap between demand and supply of renewable energy
- A new type of photocathode that allows for the direct conversion of solar energy into a fuel (hydrogen), thus potentially enabling economic production of hydrogen
- An economic system that allows for the storage of solar energy.
Development of new technologies and advancement of the knowledge base in the areas of nanotechnology, chemical sciences and solar energy conversion
- Creation of business and employment opportunities in the area of renewable energies and advanced manufacturing
- Education of postgraduate students (2-3 PhD students)
- Public awareness through the dissemination of the project results not only in scientific journals and at conferences, but also at schools and through other approved routes.