Improved catalyst for splitting water to produce low cost, renewable hydrogen

Improved catalyst for splitting water to produce low cost, renewable hydrogen

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HyperSolar, Inc. successfully developed an efficient and low-cost catalyst for oxygen production. The role of catalyst is important in the half reaction of water-splitting for hydrogen production. The amount of hydrogen produced by water splitting is fundamentally limited by the slower oxygen half reaction.  Developing an efficient oxygen catalyst is an important milestone in the company’s effort to split water molecules for the production of renewable hydrogen.

HyperSolar in partnership with The University of Iowa has recently made some significant breakthroughs toward perfecting a catalyst. They have developed an efficient and stable oxygen catalyst using inexpensive earth abundant elements.

It is also an extremely low cost ambient process to deposit an ultrathin layer (less than 10 nanometers) of the catalyst on the surface of a solar cell. The deposition process is highly scalable and rapid (takes less than 10 seconds) enabling deposition on large area solar panels for commercial production. The catalyst demonstrated stable and efficient operation for more than 48 hours under aggressive operating conditions.  The efficiency is roughly estimated to be 75% of the efficiency of iridium.

Currently the team is further optimizing the catalyst to reach 90% of the efficiency of iridium based catalysts, while simultaneously optimizing the catalyst deposition process on a commercially available amorphous silicon solar cell, as part of a commercial prototype under development.