Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Solar Power Splits Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen Using Unique Method

Date:
May 3, 2007
Source:
Washington University in St. Louis
Summary:
Engineers have developed a unique photocatlytic cell that splits water to produce hydrogen and oxygen in water using sunlight and the power of a nanostructured catalyst. The discovery provides a new, low-cost and efficient option for hydrogen production and can be used for a variety of distributed energy applications.

Pratim Biswas and his group have developed a method to make a variety of oxide semiconductors that, when put into water promote chemical reactions that split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The method provides a new low cost and efficient option for hydrogen production.
Credit: David Kilper/WUSTL Photo

Engineers at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a unique photocatalytic cell that splits water to produce hydrogen and oxygen in water using sunlight and the power of a nanostructured catalyst.

The group is developing novel methodologies for synthesis of nanostructured films with superior opto-electronic properties. One of the methods, which sandwiches three semiconductor films into a compact structure on the nanoscale range, is smaller, more efficient and more stable than present photocatalytic methods, which require multiple steps and can take from several hours to a day to complete.

The discovery provides a new, low-cost and efficient option for hydrogen production and can be used for a variety of distributed energy applications.

Pratim Biswas, Ph.D., the Stifel and Quinette Jens Professor and Chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, and his graduate student Elijah Thimsen, recently have developed the well-controlled, gas phase process, and have demonstrated it for synthesizing a variety of oxide semiconductors such as iron and titanium dioxide films in a single step process. It is based on a simple, inexpensive flame aerosol reactor (FLAR) and consists of four mass flow controllers to regulate process gases, a standard bubbler to deliver a precursor, a metal tube that acts as a burner and a water-cooled substrate holder.

"We put these films in water and they promote some reactions that split water into hydrogen and oxygen," said Biswas. "We can use any oxide materials such as titanium dioxide, tungsten oxide and iron oxide in nanostructures sandwiched together that make very compact structures. The process is direct and takes only a few minutes to fabricate. More important, these processes can be scaled up to produce larger structures in a very cost effective manner in atmospheric pressure processes."

Collaborations have now been established with Dewey Holten, Ph.D., Washington University professor of chemistry in Arts & Sciences, to better understand the electron-hole pair kinetics, information that can then be used to tune the synthesis process. Other collaborations with Robert Blankenship, Ph.D., Washington University professor of biology and chemistry in Arts & Sciences, are being explored to create hybrid bio-nanostructures that will improve the light absorption efficiencies over a broader range of wavelengths. Electrospray and other aerosol techniques are being used to create these hybrid films.

The method was described in a recent issue of SPIE, a publication of the International Society for Optical Engineering.

The research is among the first wave of news out of the new Washington University Department of Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering, which performs research on energy and environment, including alternative fuels and energy sources, air quality research, nanoparticle technology and particle emission control, among other topics.

Some of the department faculty — 14 members now, expected to double in five to ten years — are active in the University's ambitious BioEnergy Initiative, which is focused on the development of technologies for the production of next generation biofuels. The adoption of a systems approach will not only enable development processes for large volume production of liquid fuels from plant-based sources, but also at a low cost, and most importantly, in an environmentally benign manner — not only during the production, but also during the actual usage.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Washington University in St. Louis. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Washington University in St. Louis. "Solar Power Splits Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen Using Unique Method." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070502120347.htm>.
Washington University in St. Louis. (2007, May 3). Solar Power Splits Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen Using Unique Method. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070502120347.htm
Washington University in St. Louis. "Solar Power Splits Water Into Hydrogen And Oxygen Using Unique Method." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/05/070502120347.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

San Diego Zoo's White Rhinos Provide Hope for the Critically Endangered Species

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — The pair of rare white northern rhinos bring hope for their species as only six remain in the world. Elly Park reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Trick-or-Treating Banned Because of Polar Bears

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) — Mother Nature is pulling a trick on the kids of Arviat, Canada. As Mara Montalbano (@maramontalbano) tells us, the effects of global warming caused the town to ban trick-or-treating this Halloween. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

Traditional Farming Methods Gaining Ground in Mali

AFP (Oct. 20, 2014) — He is leading a one man agricultural revolution in Mali - Oumar Diatabe uses traditional farming methods to get the most out of his land and is teaching others across the country how to do the same. Duration: 01:44 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

How Detroit's Money Woes Led To U.N.-Condemned Water Cutoffs

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) — The United Nations says water is a human right, but should it be free? Detroit has cut off water to residents who can't pay, and the U.N. isn't happy. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins