Michael Grätzel laboratory at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) in Switzerland, built a photovoltaic device that uses sunlight to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas with 12.3 percent efficiency using cheap and earth-abundant materials called perovskites.
Perovskite are compounds that can be obtained in the laboratory from various common chemical constituents such as those used in normal car batteries. The device made of perovskites combined with other inexpensive catalysts convert sun's energy into hydrogen with a conversion efficiency of 12.3% and this percentage will soon be higher.
The abundance of perovskites is an advantage that eliminates the need for rare-earth expensive metals in the production of usable hydrogen fuel, making the production of solar cells more affordable.
The conversion from sun to hydrogen gas solves the problem of the storage of solar power, because this gas can easily be store in bottles and can be used to generate electricity on demand.
The research is ongoing and it will take years to get all the data on indoor and outdoor stability of perovskite cells but it could be great to produce cheap clean fuel to power cars in the future!
More info: http://lpi.epfl.ch/page-51005.html
- Contributed by Liliane Gonzalez, Academic Intern swissnex China