Underwater solar cells are being used to help create cheap hydrogen fuel directly from water. By using the power of the sun, the plan is simple: make sure that we can create hydrogen from sustainable, repeatable, ethical sources. And for many people, that is going to be this new plan that is being put together at the University of Bath’s Centre for Sustainable Chemical Technologies.
The obvious need for humanity to cut down on its carbon consumption has been a talking point for a while. As the years go on, though, the warnings are becoming clearer: we need to act, and soon. Therefore, we need more ethical forms of energy production, and hydrogen could be the key to doing just that. Given it produces zero carbon emissions, it could be used to power everything such as cars to ship, trains, planes and other vehicles. In short, this could allow us to create a system where ‘recyclable energy’ becomes not just a hope, but a reality.
A new form of sustainable power?
The process is an expensive one at the moment, with the cost of turning water into hydrogen and oxygen being very energy-intensive. However, the University of Bath has some interesting solar cells in development. These cells use light energy to split H2O.
The perovskite solar cells will be made from a structure similar to calcium titanium oxide. They are often more cost-effective than silicone alternatives and tend to be much smaller in profile. As such, they could be created to work in larger areas, and could avoid some of the logistical challenges of previous iterations of such a technology.
By using a waterproof coating that is made from graphite, this removes the problem where the solar cells made from perovskite were not handling water contact well. As such, this allows for up to 30-hours of time underwater without any damage being done to the cells.
For reference, that is close to 10-hours longer than the previous record.
For years, we’ve been looking to find a few solutions as to how we can overcome the climate breakdown we are witnessing. While by no means a definitive solution for all of the issues we face, this is almost certainly a positive step in the right direction and could be the key to getting a meaningful response from the energy industry. If this project continues to improve as it does, we could see something truly incredible come to fruition in regard to creating cheap and abundant hydrogen fuel.
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