The single-step process produces green hydrogen using nanoparticles and sunlight
Spotted: Hydrogen is potentially a very useful clean energy source. It is already seeing use in a number of applications, including as an aviation fuel. However, while hydrogen can be produced from a variety of energy sources, most hydrogen in use now is derived from fossil fuels – making it less than green. One Israeli startup, however, is working to change this, with technology that produces green hydrogen using solar energy.
The company, QD-Sol, has developed panels that use nanoparticles to perform artificial photosynthesis, using a component that mimics the action of an electrolyser. The panels break down the bonds between the particles in water, to release oxygen and hydrogen. Then, the hydrogen can be stored for use as a clean fuel. This process replaces the current production of hydrogen which utilises natural gas and emits CO2 as a by-product.
QD-Sol’s new panels also represent a significant improvement over earlier designs, in which the operation of the solar cell and the electrolyser were performed separately. These multi-step processes use sources such as solar or wind to power the extraction of hydrogen from water using electrolysis. Instead, in QD-Sol’s panels, the nanoparticles do everything in one place. This makes the most efficient use of sunlight and maximises the efficiency of the system over time.
Professor Lilac Amirov, QD-Sol chief scientist and one of the startup’s founders, explains that, “The technology of [manufacturing] green hydrogen based on solar cells and electrolysis makes use of silicon-based hard panels to work at normal efficiency – so it needs a large field full of panels. Our process does not have these requirements, which allows us to design systems that are much more flexible in terms of the design of their space.”
Given that hydrogen is already being used as a fuel source in a number of industries, it is vitally important that we develop cost-effective ways of producing green hydrogen. In addition to aviation fuel, Springwise has also spotted the use of hydrogen as a power source for data centres, and as port vehicle fuel.
Written By: Lisa Magloff