High-Efficiency Photoelectrochemical (PEC) Water Splitting

Description:

 

Invention Summary

Semiconductors treated with the methods exhibit enhanced resistance to corrosion resulting from constant illuminated operation in acidic electrolytes.

 

Market Opportunity

Hydrogen exhibits the potential to be an emission-free fuel that can be produced from abundant resources found throughout the world. The development of fuel cell vehicles, for example, could reduce the supply needs, pollution effects, and other problems associated with petroleum-based transportation fuels. To become a viable energy option, hydrogen must be produced economically from sustainable sources. Steam reforming of natural gas accounts for most of the hydrogen produced in the United States. A cleaner and more sustainable way to produce hydrogen is to use sunlight to directly split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Such photoelectrochemical (PEC) devices combine a light harvesting system with a water splitting system, the latter comprising a semiconductor immersed in an aqueous electrolyte solution. The semiconductor materials currently used in light-harvesting systems, however, are subject to corrosion resulting from prolonged operation under illumination in harsh aqueous electrolytes.

 

Features & Benefits

•Nitrogen ions can be implanted in an exposed semiconductor surface, and ruthenium alloy can be deposited on the exposed semiconductor surface.

 

•Photoelectrodes can comprise of a nitrided semiconductor and a submonolayer amount of a ruthenium alloy in contact with at least one surface of the nitrided semiconductor.

 

•Photoelectrochemical cells can be provided. The photoelectrochemical cells can comprise of a photoelectrode, the photoelectrode can comprise of a nitrided semiconductor, and a submonolayer amount of a ruthenium alloy in contact with at least one surface of the nitrided semiconductor.

 

•Multijunction cells can be provided. The multijunction cells can comprise of a photoelectrode, the photoelectrode can comprise of a nitrided semiconductor and a submonolayer amount of a ruthenium alloy in contact with at least one surface of the nitrided semiconductor.

 

•Methods of generating hydrogen from water can be provided. The methods can illuminate the photoelectrode of a photoelectrochemical cell with light, the photoelectrochemical cell can comprise of a photoelectrode, the photoelectrode can comprise of a nitrided semiconductor and a submonolayer amount of a ruthenium alloy in contact with at least one surface of the nitrided semiconductor; the photoelectrode is in contact with an aqueous electrolyte and the photoelectrode splits water from the aqueous electrolyte into hydrogen and oxygen.

 

Intellectual Property        Published Patent: US-2014-0332374-A1

 

 

Patent Information:
Category(s):
Chemistry
All
For Information, Contact:
Zachary Miles
Director of Technology Transfer and Development
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
702-895-0937
zach.miles@unlv.edu
Inventors:
Kyle George
Clemens Heske
Lothar Weinhardt
Michael Weir
Keywords:
Chemistry
Renewable Energy
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