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article imageGas stations soon to be provided directly by solar farms

By Tim Sandle     Mar 15, 2017 in Environment
Energy technologists have come up with a new method for safely and efficiently producing hydrogen at a central point, miles away from the solar farm. If commercialized this method will lower the cost of producing hydrogen and also for shipping it.
The new process for collecting hydrogen has been developed by Technion-Israel Institute of Technology and it involves producing of hydrogen from water using solar energy. The approach will make it possible to produce hydrogen in a centralized manner at the point of sale (like directly to a gas station for use by electric cars). Gas stations can be located many miles away from the solar farm.
The advantages are lower costs and a wide ruse of hydrogen, which is considered to be far better for the environment than high-polluting fossil fuels. Hydrogen can be manufactured from water and this production process does not require non-renewable natural resources (some hydrogen is generated from natural gas burning, which is polluting). Producing hydrogen from water involves splitting water molecules through electrolysis and an effective way to do this is via solar power using a photoelectrochemical cell, without the need for external power source. This type of cell electrolizes water to hydrogen and oxygen gas by irradiating the anode with electromagnetic radiation. This has been referred to as artificial photosynthesis.
As well as being relatively ‘green’ to produce, hydrogen produced from water, unlike diesel and petrol, running hydrogen vehicles does not lead to the generation of air pollutants (water is the by-product released from hydrogen).
The new cell is the basis of the way to supply hydrogen directly to gas stations. This involves developing a method that keeps hydrogen and the oxygen separate from each other; collects hydrogen from millions of solar cells; and allows for the transportation of hydrogen to the point of sale.
This is achieved with a new type of photoelectrochemical cell which allows hydrogen and oxygen to be formed in two separate cells, separated by a thin membrane. This allows for a considerable space to exist between the cells and the point of use In the future there could also be a solar farm designed to collect the sun's energy and produce oxygen, with the hydrogen produced in a centralized location several miles away. This comes down to two-stage electrolysis technology and it enables hydrogen production at high pressure and with high efficiency. The technology remains at the developmental stage.
The research has been published in the journal Nature Materials, with the research paper titled “Photoelectrochemical water splitting in separate oxygen and hydrogen cells.”
In other news, Digital Journal has recently reported on improvements to hydrogen production that reduce the inefficiencies associated with the generation of hydrogen peroxide. This comes from chemists based at the Eindhoven University of Technology and the Weizmann Institute who have focused on understanding the spin of electrons.
More about Hydrogen, hydrogen farm, hydrogen car, Solar power, Solar energy
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