Researchers Develop New Technique to Produce Hydrogen from Sunlight

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Researchers developed a new technique to produce hydrogen from sunlight, according to a study conducted on April 27, 2018.

This study was conducted by the researchers from the University of Exeter. This new technique will help in producing a clean, cheap, and widely available fuel. The method that was newly developed could split water into its constituent parts, hydrogen and oxygen using sunlight. The hydrogen can then be used as a fuel, with the potential to power everyday items such as homes and vehicles.

Apart from reducing carbon emissions, it will also be a virtually limitless source of energy. This new research focuses on the use of a revolutionary photo-electrode, an electrode that absorbs light before initializing electrochemical transformations to extract the hydrogen from water, made from nanoparticles of the elements lanthanum, iron and oxygen. According to the researchers, this photo-electrode will be cheap and can be recreated on a large scale for worldwide use.

At present, around 85 per cent of the global energy provisions come from the burning of fossil fuels. Therefore the need and desire to find a sustainable, cost-effective renewable fuel source is growing in urgency. The inability to produce a semiconducting material suitable for the process is one of the most significant hindrances to the development of viable solar energy. Lanthanum iron oxide was used by the researchers to create a semiconducting material that gave the ideal results for the production of hydrogen from water using sunlight.

Govinder Pawar, lead author of the paper said, “We have shown that our LaFeO3 photo-electrode has ideal band alignments needed to split water into its constituents (H2 and O2) spontaneously, without the need of an external bias. Moreover, our material has excellent stability where after 21 hours of testing it does not degrade, ideal for water splitting purpose. We are currently working on further improving our material to make it more efficient to produce more hydrogen.”

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