New solar cells can efficiently and inexpensively convert water into energy

New solar cells can efficiently and inexpensively convert water into energy

A group of scientists from Switzerland have successfully created a device that can convert solar energy into hydrogen fuel at a cost that is far lower than anything the world has seen before. As the most abundant energy source on the planet, solar energy is the most attractive alternative to greenhouse-emitting fossil fuels.

Researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), a Swiss federal institute of technology, developed a new, highly efficient method of splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen by combining a stable catalyst with a highly efficient perovskite solar cell. The major drawback is that the perovskite solar cells break down after a few hours, but it’s hoped that further advancements in solar cell technology will eventually solve this problem.

As promising as solar energy is, modern energy storage technology limits its potential. Without the ability to store the energy, you have no way of transporting it or saving it for later use. Hydrogen, on the other hand, is a gas that can be stored in any old container, and it’s just as clean as solar energy. By using solar energy to generate hydrogen, you create an efficient, cost effective alternative to fossil fuel-based energy sources.

“Once you have hydrogen, you store it in a bottle and you can do with it whatever you want to, whenever you want it,” said Doctor Michael Grätzel, director of the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces, who led the research.

Read more about the story at Scientific American.


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