Nanowires give 'solar fuel cell' efficiency a tenfold boost
Date: Sunday, July 19, 2015 @ 23:19:00 EDT
Topic: Science

From A solar cell that produces fuel rather than electricity. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and FOM Foundation today present a very promising prototype of this in the journal Nature Communications. The material gallium phosphide enables their solar cell to produce the clean fuel hydrogen gas from liquid water. Processing the gallium phosphide in the form of very small nanowires is novel and helps to boost the yield by a factor of ten. And does so using ten thousand times less precious material.

The electricity produced by a solar cell can be used to set off chemical reactions. If this generates a fuel, then one speaks of solar fuels - a hugely promising replacement for polluting fuels. One of the possibilities is to split liquid water using the electricity that is generated (electrolysis). Among oxygen, this produces hydrogen gas that can be used as a clean fuel in the chemical industry or combusted in fuel cells - in cars for example - to drive engines...

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