High-Voltage Solar Cell for Water-Splitting Hydrogen Process

March 17, 2015 by Jeff Shepard

HyperSolar, Inc. today announced that it has jointly filed a full utility patent application with the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) for the "method of manufacture of multi-junction artificial photosynthetic cells." Inspired by expensive space shuttle multi-junction solar cells where different layers of semiconductor materials are stacked together to maximize solar conversion efficiency, this patent application claims a novel low cost and high voltage multi-junction solar cell made from a single material. The single material has a low cost per watt and the voltage achieved so far in the laboratory is very close to the critical 1.5 volts required for splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

If successfully developed, the company believes that this technology can produce renewable hydrogen from water (green hydrogen) that is cost competitive with hydrogen that is currently produced from natural gas (brown hydrogen). HyperSolar believes licensing opportunities can be created through various industry applications, such as for car charging stations, retail distribution centers, and facilities that would benefit from cost-efficient hydrogen developed at or near the point of distribution.

"As hydrogen fuel technology continues to garner attention from the mainstream consumer as well as industrial sectors, the industry is set to become as competitive as solar and wind energies," said Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar. "As we work with our partners, the University of Iowa and University of California, Santa Barbara, to scale our process for producing completely renewable, or 'green hydrogen' at or near the point of distribution, HyperSolar will only become more prominent. This patent ensures that we not only protect our technology, but also allows us to facilitate licensing efforts as we progress towards commercialization."

HyperSolar's technology is based on the concept of developing a low-cost, submersible hydrogen production particle that can split water molecules using sunlight without any other external systems or resources - acting as artificial photosynthesis. A video of an early proof-of-concept prototype can be viewed here.