Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

New, Inexpensive Production Materials Boost Promise of Hydrogen Fuel

Published: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Bookmark and Share
Combining cheap, oxide-based materials to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases using solar energy, researchers achieved the highest reported for any oxide-based photoelectrode system.

Generating electricity is not the only way to turn sunlight into energy we can use on demand. The sun can also drive reactions to create chemical fuels, such as hydrogen, that can in turn power cars, trucks and trains.

The trouble with solar fuel production is the cost of producing the sun-capturing semiconductors and the catalysts to generate fuel. The most efficient materials are far too expensive to produce fuel at a price that can compete with gasoline.

"In order to make commercially viable devices for solar fuel production, the material and the processing costs should be reduced significantly while achieving a high solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency," says Kyoung-Shin Choi, a chemistry professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

In a study published last week in the journal Science, Choi and postdoctoral researcher Tae Woo Kim combined cheap, oxide-based materials to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gases using solar energy with a solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency of 1.7 percent, the highest reported for any oxide-based photoelectrode system.

Choi created solar cells from bismuth vanadate using electrodeposition — the same process employed to make gold-plated jewelry or surface-coat car bodies — to boost the compound's surface area to a remarkable 32 square meters for each gram.

"Without fancy equipment, high temperature or high pressure, we made a nanoporous semiconductor of very tiny particles that have a high surface area," says Choi, whose work is supported by the National Science Foundation. "More surface area means more contact area with water, and, therefore, more efficient water splitting."

Bismuth vanadate needs a hand in speeding the reaction that produces fuel, and that's where the paired catalysts come in.

While there are many research groups working on the development of photoelectric semiconductors, and many working on the development of water-splitting catalysts, according to Choi, the semiconductor-catalyst junction gets relatively little attention.

"The problem is, in the end you have to put them together," she says. "Even if you have the best semiconductor in the world and the best catalyst in the world, their overall efficiency can be limited by the semiconductor-catalyst interface."

Choi and Kim exploited a pair of cheap and somewhat flawed catalysts — iron oxide and nickel oxide — by stacking them on the bismuth vanadate to take advantage of their relative strengths.

"Since no one catalyst can make a good interface with both the semiconductor and the water that is our reactant, we choose to split that work into two parts," Choi says. "The iron oxide makes a good junction with bismuth vanadate, and the nickel oxide makes a good catalytic interface with water. So we use them together."

The dual-layer catalyst design enabled simultaneous optimization of semiconductor-catalyst junction and catalyst-water junction.

"Combining this cheap catalyst duo with our nanoporous high surface area semiconductor electrode resulted in the construction of an inexpensive all oxide-based photoelectrode system with a record high efficiency," Choi says.

She expects the basic work done to prove the efficiency enhancement by nanoporous bismuth vanadate electrode and dual catalyst layers will provide labs around the world with fodder for leaps forward.

"Other researchers studying different types of semiconductors or different types of catalysts can start to use this approach to identify which combinations of materials can be even more efficient," says Choi, whose lab is already tweaking their design. "Which some engineering, the efficiency we achieved could be further improved very fast."


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,100+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 4,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Developing a More Precise Seasonal Flu Vaccine
During the 2014-15 flu season, the poor match between the virus used to make the world’s vaccine stocks and the circulating seasonal virus yielded a vaccine that was less than 20 percent effective.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Carrot Genome Uncovered
Carrot genome paints picture of domestication, could help improve crops.
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Cell Transplant Treats Parkinson’s in Mice
A University of Wisconsin—Madison neuroscientist has inserted a genetic switch into nerve cells so a patient can alter their activity by taking designer drugs that would not affect any other cell.
Friday, April 29, 2016
Experimental Drug Cancels Effect from Key Intellectual Disability Gene
A University of Wisconsin—Madison researcher who studies the most common genetic intellectual disability has used an experimental drug to reverse — in mice — damage from the mutation that causes the syndrome.
Thursday, April 28, 2016
New Model to Enhance Zika Virus Research
The model will allow researchers to better understand how the virus causes disease and aid in the development of antiviral compounds and vaccines.
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Common Cell Transformed into Master Heart Cell
By genetically reprogramming the most common type of cell in mammalian connective tissue, researchers at the University of Wisconsin—Madison have generated master heart cells — primitive progenitors that form the developing heart.
Friday, February 12, 2016
Madison Researchers Begin Work on Zika Virus
Work will start with basic questions about Zika virus infection.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Custom Tuning Knobs to Turn Off Any Gene
Factory managers can improve productivity by telling workers to speed up, slow down or stop doing tangential tasks while assembling widgets. Unfortunately for synthetic biologists attempting to produce pharmaceuticals, microbes don’t respond to direction like human personnel.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
Small-Scale Protein Production a Big Business for UW Spinoff
It’s only a slight oversimplification to say that making proteins is the entire job of the DNA that comprises our chromosomes.
Friday, February 05, 2016
Developing Drug Resistance may be a Matter of Diversity for Tuberculosis
Researchers have probed the bacteria that causes tuberculosis, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, to learn more about how individual bacterial cells change and adapt while in the human body.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
Compound Doubles Up On Cancer Detection
Researchers have found that tagging a pair of markers found almost exclusively on a common brain cancer yields a cancer signal that is both more obvious and more specific to cancer.
Thursday, October 08, 2015
Flu Study, on Hold, Yields New Vaccine Technology
Vaccines to protect against an avian influenza pandemic as well as seasonal flu may be mass produced more quickly and efficiently using technology described today by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Discovery in Growing Graphene Nanoribbons Could Enable Faster, More Efficient Electronics
Engineers have discovered a way to grow graphene nanoribbons with desirable semiconducting properties directly on a conventional germanium semiconductor wafer.
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Cancer Discovery Links Experimental Vaccine and Biological Treatment
A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has linked two seemingly unrelated cancer treatments that are both now being tested in clinical trials.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Iron: A Biological Element?
Study shows findings which have meaning for fields as diverse as mining and the search for life in space.
Friday, June 26, 2015
Scientific News
The Rise of 3D Cell Culture and in vitro Model Systems for Drug Discovery and Toxicology
An overview of the current technology and the challenges and benefits over 2D cell culture models plus some of the latest advances relating to human health research.
Injecting New Life into Old Antibiotics
A new fully synthetic way to make a class of antibiotics called macrolides from simple building blocks is set to open up a new front in the fight against antimicrobial drug resistance.
Insight into Bacterial Resilience and Antibiotic Targets
Variant of CRISPR technology paired with computerized imaging reveals essential gene networks in bacteria.
Advancing Protein Visualization
Cryo-EM methods can determine structures of small proteins bound to potential drug candidates.
Alzheimer’s Protein Serves as Natural Antibiotic
Alzheimer's-associated amyloid plaques may be part of natural process to trap microbes, findings suggest new therapeutic strategies.
Slime Mold Reveals Clues to Immune Cells’ Directional Abilities
Study from UC San Diego identifies a protein involved in the directional ability of a slime mold.
How Do You Kill A Malaria Parasite?
Drexel University scientists have discovered an unusual mechanism for how two new antimalarial drugs operate: They give the parasite’s skin a boost in cholesterol, making it unable to traverse the narrow labyrinths of the human bloodstream. The drugs also seem to trick the parasite into reproducing prematurely.
Illuminating Hidden Gene Regulators
New super-resolution technique visualizes important role of short-lived enzyme clusters.
Supressing Intenstinal Analphylaxis in Peanut Allergy
Study from National Jewish Health shows that blockade of histamine receptors suppresses intestinal anaphylaxis in peanut allergy.
New NIH-EPA Research Centers to Study Environmental Health Disparities
Scientists will partner with community organizations to study these concerns and develop culturally appropriate ways to reduce exposure to harmful environmental conditions.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,100+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,500+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!