Hydrogen Solar Develops Nanocrystalline Material

November 28, 2004 by Jeff Shepard

Hydrogen Solar Ltd. (UK) has developed a nanocrystalline material that will improve the production of hydrogen by using solar energy to split water more efficiently into its elemental parts. The company plans to open a laboratory in Las Vegas, NV, and is looking for scientists to drive the development work forward and engineers to participate in the engineering and design aspects of the Tandem Cell, including design of the cell and components for optimized manufacturing, performance, durability and safety.

Hydrogen Solar plans to improve the energy conversion efficiencies of the nanocrystalline thin films and develop industrial-scale production methods that are consistent and replicate or exceed laboratory results. The company expects its technology to see use as a clean, CO2-free fuel for transport and home energy installations. The technology is now able to convert more than 8% of sunlight energy directly into pure hydrogen fuel. The company is closing on the target 10% performance recognized as the benchmark for commercially viable production on the open energy market.

Central to the increases in performance of the cell unit is the use of nanocrystalline coatings. Using metal oxides, the coatings produce high photo-current densities, and convert light and water into hydrogen fuel from one single unit. In the cell there are two photo-catalytic cells arranged in series. A nanocrystalline film coats the front cell. The coating absorbs high-energy (ultraviolet and blue) light. The lower-energy light (green and red wavelengths) passes through the front cell and into the second. The light excites the electrons in the cell's coating, which sets up an electrical potential. The electricity splits the water molecules in an electrolyte, producing hydrogen.

At the benchmark 10% performance level, a 7 m x 7 m Tandem Cell unit on a double garage roof is capable of producing enough hydrogen from sunlight to run a Mercedes A-Class vehicle 11,000 miles over a year in Los Angeles light conditions. The unit can work on factory and garage roofs.