A major challenge in renewable energy is storage. A common approach is a reaction that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen, and uses the hydrogen as a fuel to store energy. The efficiency of ‘water splitting’ depends heavily on a solid substance called a catalyst. However, only the surface of the catalyst acts on the reaction, while its bulk is inactive. This restricts how much catalyst can be used, and limits the efficiency of water splitting in energy systems. Publishing in Nature Communications, EPFL scientists have developed a new method for maximizing the catalyst’s contribution by chemically ‘peeling off’ only its active surface and excluding its bulk from the reaction. Their data, which show 2.6- to 4.5-fold increase in water-splitting efficiency, pave the way for cheaper and more efficient renewable energy storage. Because of the natural inconsistency of sunlight and wind, using them for energy purposes requires devices that can store that energy in the form of hydrogen for later use. These devices are based on a reaction called ‘photoelectrochemical water-splitting’, because it uses solar or wind energy to break water into molecular oxygen (O2) and hydrogen (Η2), the latter of which can be stored away as fuel for later use.
The post Improving the cost and efficiency of renewable energy storage has been published on Technology Org.
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