Hydrogen technology company HyperSolar has developed a novel system architecture to efficiently separate and produce pure hydrogen from sunlight and water.
The company has achieved a significant technological milestone in its pursuit of clean hydrogen fuel production by eliminating an expensive hydrogen-oxygen separation process. This in turn will dramatically reduce the overall system cost of producing hydrogen from sunlight.
Self-contained sunlight driven water-splitting technology, known more generally as “artificial photosynthesis”, typically produces hydrogen and oxygen gas bubbles in the same reactor. This mixture is potentially explosive and the two gases must therefore be quickly separated from each other. However, current gas separation technology, which uses selective membranes, is very expensive and the membranes themselves also need to be regularly replaced.
HyperSolar has now developed a novel reactor design and system architecture that uses a high voltage solar cell. This can be wrapped in the company’s patent-pending polymer coating which serves two functions. First, it can convert sunlight into electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. Secondly, it acts as a physical barrier preventing the two gases combining. Instead, the respective hydrogen and oxygen gas bubbles to the top of the reactor as two separate gas streams. This in turn circumvents the need for membrane separators.
“Artificial photosynthesis and the concept of separating hydrogen from oxygen has been linked to having great ‘potential’ for some time” said Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar. “With this novel reactor design, we believe that we are much closer to eliminating the aspects of the hydrogen production process which many have considered unsafe, costly and inefficient. This breakthrough will support our ultimate goal of cost-effectively producing hydrogen fuel at or near the point of distribution, for use in both consumer and industrial industry sectors.”
The technology is based on the concept of developing a low-cost, submersible hydrogen production particle that can split water molecules using sunlight without any other external systems or resources, in effect acting as artificial photosynthesis. HyperSolar is currently funding a sponsored research agreement with UCSB to further the development of its renewable hydrogen technology.