Let’s cut to the chase. Suppose you had a device that could make electricity and hydrogen at the same time? Think this might be valuable for the renewable technologies marketplace?
For at least 40 years, the solar-hydrogen connection has been a goal for transitioning from a carbon-based energy economy. Many different concepts and systems have been discussed and prototyped to demonstrate this possibility.
Now, the very capable folks at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab [LBL] have some bragging rights with this technology, having developed a hybrid device. Thy have a novel integration of photovoltaic and electrochemical devices, that could simultaneously meet real-time energy demand while producing hydrogen too.
According to public literature…..”LBL’s patent-pending design is a single hybrid photoelectrochemical and voltaic (HPEV) cell. The HPEV makes dual use of its photon-excited electrons and thus maximizes its overall efficiency, much as cogeneration power plants achieve high fuel efficiency by squeezing both heat and power from natural gas or coal.”
It is expected the hybrid cell performance will result in almost 7% of incoming sunlight converted to hydrogen; and 13% of that same light converted into electricity.
Think of the possibilities with making a very clean fuel form and electricity simultaneously. One could serve local electric loads and fuel needs, or maybe shipping the fuel form through an underground piping system…either existing or new.
Editor’s Deep Dive