In recent years under the sponsorship of DOE, the Thin Films Laboratory  at HNEI has been developing high-efficiency, potentially low-cost, photoelectrochemical (PEC) systems to produce hydrogen directly from water using sunlight as the sole source of energy. The main thrust of the research has been the development of integrated multijunction photoelectrode configurations comprising low-cost semiconductor, catalytic and protective thin-films. HNEI continues to work closely with the DOE’s Working Group on PEC Hydrogen Production, and maintains international ties with the IEA (International Energy Association) annexes focusing on similar research.
Important accomplishments have included: 1) the demonstration of standalone water splitting with the Hydride Photo-Electrode (HPE) approach by combining various photocatalytic materials (such as tungsten trioxide or copper chalcopyrite) with low-cost amorphous-silicon PV drivers; 2) the development of thin film cobalt-molybdenum (CoMo) and iron-nickel oxide (Fe:NiOx) catalysts for alkaline photoelectrolysis which exhibited negligible performance degradation in continuous operation for over 5,000 hours; 3) demonstration of 7.8% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency in a small-scale reactor using monolithically-stacked triple junction amorphous silicon/germanium alloy thin film solar cells coated with CoMo hydrogen catalyst; 4) development of tin oxide-based thin films with low resistivity and stable under high temperature thermal annealing; and 5) development of wide bandgap copper-based chalcopyrite thin films for use in HPE structures.
For further information about this project, contact Nicolas Gaillard .