A thermally synergistic photo-electrochemical hydrogen generator operating under concentrated solar irradiation

Achieving high current densities while maintaining high energy conversion efficiency is one of the main challenges for enhanc-ing the competitiveness of photo-electrochemical devices. We describe a concept that allows this challenge to be overcome by operating under concentrated solar irradiation (up to 474 kW m−2), using thermal integration, mass transport optimization and a close electronic integration between the photoabsorber and electrocatalyst. We quantify the increase in the theoretical maximum efficiencies resulting from thermal integration, and experimentally validate the concept using a III–V-based photoab-sorber and IrRuOx–Pt-based electrocatalysts. We reach current densities higher than 0.88 A cm−2 at calculated solar-to-hydro-gen conversion efficiencies above 15%. Device performance, dynamic response and stability are investigated, demonstrating the ability to produce hydrogen stably under varying conditions for more than two hours. The current density and output power (27 W) achieved provide a pathway for device scalability aimed towards the large-scale deployment of photo-electrochemical hydrogen production.

Published in:
Nature Energy
Apr 29 2019

 Record created 2019-04-29, last modified 2019-05-17

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