Practical artificial photosynthetic systems for sustainable energy generation and storage

09/16/2016 - 07:54

Dr. Regine Panknin | Image: Forschungszentrum Jülich

Scientists from Forschungszentrum Jülich have developed the first complete and compact design for an artificial photosynthesis facility. This is a decisive step towards applying the technology. The concept is flexible both with respect to the materials used and also the size of the system.


Ref: Upscaling of integrated photoelectrochemical water-splitting devices to large areas. Nature Communications (7 September 2016) | DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12681 | PDF (Open Access)


Photoelectrochemical water splitting promises both sustainable energy generation and energy storage in the form of hydrogen. However, the realization of this vision requires laboratory experiments to be engineered into a large-scale technology. Up to now only few concepts for scalable devices have been proposed or realized. Here we introduce and realize a concept which, by design, is scalable to large areas and is compatible with multiple thin-film photovoltaic technologies. The scalability is achieved by continuous repetition of a base unit created by laser processing. The concept allows for independent optimization of photovoltaic and electrochemical part. We demonstrate a fully integrated, wireless device with stable and bias-free operation for 40 h. Furthermore, the concept is scaled to a device area of 64 cm2 comprising 13 base units exhibiting a solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 3.9%. The concept and its successful realization may be an important contribution towards the large-scale application of artificial photosynthesis.