From solar power and water to hydrogen
SunHydrogen transforms solar power and any source of water into hydrogen by extracting water at the molecular level using billions of microscopic nanoparticles. The team uses Photoelectrosynthetically Active Heterostructures (PAH) which can be compared to microscopic machines. These ultra-tiny machines have several layers that trigger ‘solar electrolysis’, meaning they use energy from sunlight to make a chemical reaction happen. Once the reaction, it separates water in the process, thus extracting hydrogen for use as a clean energy source and leaving behind only clean oxygen happens as a byproduct.
SunHydrogen compares the process with photosynthesis where plants use sunlight to make their own food. The tech team goes to this direction after they have acknowledged that nearly all hydrogen these days is procured through steam methane reforming, an intensive process that emits carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants. They looked into developing technology that can produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water and settled on optimizing the science of water electrolysis at the nano-level that enables them to use sunlight to separate hydrogen from water.
images courtesy of SunHydrogen
Sunhydrogen develops its largest panel yet
In February 2023, SunHydrogen It unveiled the largest version of its technology, which is a small panel containing 16 hydrogen generators. With this, it absorbs more sunlight and collects more hydrogen gas produced to deliver renewable energy. The company is looking to increase how much hydrogen the panel can produce and make it last longer, all while reducing the cost. They want to upsize the area where the hydrogen is generated on the panel to achieve this goal. In this way, the panel can capture more sunlight and produce even more hydrogen gas.
While SunHydrogen’s nanoparticle technology in its largest version uses the electricity produced from sunlight to create hydrogen gas when the sun is shining, they also designed a prototype that can work 24/7, even when the sun is out. Here, the prototype uses sunlight to generate hydrogen gas, but during the night or when it’s cloudy, the prototype can get electricity from renewable sources like wind or hydropower, which powers the parts responsible for creating hydrogen.
SunHydrogen generates renewable energy by converting solar power and water into hydrogen
Semiconductor units split water into hydrogen and oxygen
In 2022, SunHydrogen had a smaller version of this prototype. It was meant for testing purposes, and it could only accommodate a single nanoparticle-based hydrogen generator. Here, the tech team paired two semiconductor units to maximize sunlight absorption and hydrogen production efficiency. They paired one of their nanoparticle-based semiconductor units with solar cells to demonstrate hydrogen production from sunlight, but the fabrication of the second semiconductor unit faced delays due to supply chain challenges.
In the same year, SunHydrogen’s scientific team in Iowa identified alternative solutions to pair their proprietary semiconductor units. They generate enough voltage to split water into hydrogen and oxygen and also improve the photocurrent density, which is essential for increasing the rate of hydrogen production. The results became the foundation of the recent large-panel technology that can generate renewable energy by converting solar power and water into hydrogen, and on July 11th, 2023, SunHydrogen teamed up with South-Korean electroplater COTEC to improve and optimize a part of their technology called semiconductor deposition.
Photoelectrosynthetically Active Heterostructures (PAH) that trigger ‘solar electrolysis’
first prototype of SunHydrogen
diagram on how SunHydrogen converts solar power and water into hydrogen
matthew burgos | designboom
Jul 21, 2023