Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras have discovered a new material to split hydrogen and water, using solar power, according to a press release.
The research is expected to bring the conversion and storage part in a single system, which would reduce the cost per kWh of solar energy.
Aravind Kumar Chandiran, assistant professor, Department of Chemical Engineering and the Solar Energy Research Group (SERG) at the Institute, are together specialising in developing materials and devise architecture for solar cells, solar water splitting to hydrogen fuels, carbon dioxide recycling and metal-air batteries for electric vehicles.
The research paper, authored by Mr. Chandiran and SERG research scholar Muhammed Hamdan, was published in the international edition of the peer-reviewed journal Angewandte Chemie .
Mr. Chandiran said a single photoelectrochemical system that can harness and store solar energy in the form of chemical fuel can reduce the cost of per kWh solar energy. “In our recent work we attempted to make a first successful demonstration of water splitting, using the best photovoltaic material,” he explained.
Solar energy conversion to electricity and its storage at low cost, is an integral part of renewable energy research. The research aims to reduce the world’s reliance on fossil fuels and in turn move out of anthropogenic greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. It is an immediate requirement to develop low-cost solar energy conversion and storage systems that can produce energy equal to, or lower than the cost of grid power. The cost of conventional silicon-based solar panels -- though excellent performers and stable -- is expensive.
Mr. Hamdan discovered that halide perovskite completely absorbs the entire visible light and remains extremely stable in ambient. It was also found to be stable in strong acids and bases. Using the material’s stability he combined solar energy conversion and storage in the form of chemical fuels. Then using sunlight, and with a photoelectrochemical device made with halide perovskite, the team was able to successfully split water into hydrogen and oxygen.