📰 Imitating nature to produce solar hydrogen


The development of photoelectrochemical cells is a solution for producing carbon-free hydrogen using an artificial photosynthesis approach, but it is necessary to simplify their production, optimize their performance and ensure that their production can be implemented at large scale (The large scale, also called aerial scale or automatic scale, is a …). Irig researchers describe simplified construction and optimization via his instrumentation (The word instrumentation is used in several fields 🙂 of a “sheet (The leaf is the organ specializing in photosynthesis in plants …) artificial “containing only abundant elements with a conversion yield of power (Solar energy is the energy that the sun emits by radiation, directly or from …) in hydrogen (Hydrogen is a chemical element with the symbol H and atomic number 1.).

The production of solar fuels, and primarily hydrogen, is a declared goal in the context of the ecological transition. Photoelectrochemical processes offer a solution for producing hydrogen green (Green is a complementary color corresponding to light that has a wavelength …) from’water (Water is an omnipresent chemical compound on Earth, essential for everyone …) and’power (In common sense, energy means anything that allows you to do work, produce energy, etc.) in a decentralized way, but their performance and costs still need to be improved, which limits the functioning of these systems on a large scale.

In collaboration with researchers of theUniversity (A university is a higher education institution whose goal is the …) from Science (Science (Latin scientia, “knowledge”) is, according to the dictionary …) And Technology (The word technology actually has two meanings 🙂 in Hanoi (Vietnam), Irig researchers developed an artificial leaf based on a photovoltaic core (triple junction silicon cell) by developing a photochemical process that allows the two to be deposited in a single step and from a single precursor catalysts (In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that increases the rate of a chemical reaction; …) which realize hydrogen release and water oxidation on both sides of the artificial sheet. The device monolithic (A monolith is an element consisting of a single large block of stone. Its name derives from …) it is able, immersed in a neutral saline medium, to convert solar energy into hydrogen with a yield of 2%.

Optimizing this performance now requires a better understanding of the phenomena that limit the conversion steps and the measurement of the parameters catalysis (Catalysis is the action of a substance called a catalyst on a chemical transformation …) on each of the two sides of the artificial leaf. The Irig researchers thus instrumented the cell so that they could independently measure the electrochemical working potential of each of the catalysts, the current flowing through the cell and quantify the production of hydrogen. Such a characterization operating allowed to put light (Light is the set of electromagnetic waves visible to the eye …) the impact of the defects of the protective layers of the triple junction cell of the core and to propose traces for the optimization of the artificial sheet.

The figure shows in the center the artificial leaf that produces hydrogen and oxygen from the water under lighting.

This project (A project is an irreversible commitment with an uncertain result, not reproducible to …) from Research (Scientific research primarily refers to all actions undertaken with a view to …) fits into the context (The context of an event includes the circumstances and conditions surrounding it; the …) from the program “fundamental research (Fundamental research includes scientific research work without purpose …) for energy “at the CEA and at European level, in that of the SUNERGY initiative and the SUNER-C project, which started on 1 June 2022 (duration 3 years, balance (A budget is a provisional accounting document that distinguishes income and expenses.) 4 million euros).
SUNERGY and SUNER-C are dedicated to the development and strengthening of fuels and chemistry (Chemistry is a natural science divided into several specialties, a …) solar in Europe (Europe is a land region that can be considered a …) and pave the way for large-scale joint European action such as a public-private partnership. The CEA is coordinator of SUNERGY and SUNER-C with three operational departments involved, the Research Department Basic (In music, the fundamental word can refer to several meanings.) (operation management vector (A carrier is a sinusoidal signal of constant frequency and amplitude. It is …) for the CEA), the Department of Technological research (Technological research is the continuation of scientific research, in order to improve in …) and the Department of Energy.

Nguyen DN, Fadel M, Chenevier P, Artero V and Tran PD
Artificial leaf dividing water based on triple junction silicon solar cell: fabrication in one step by photoinduced deposition of catalysts and electrochemistry operating monitoring.
Journal of the American Chemical Society2022.

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