APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Solar cells
- Solar fuel systems
- Increases overall system efficiency
- Enables on-demand fuel or electricity production
- Decouples the photovoltaic performance from the cell’s chemical reaction
Solar water splitting may yield a production method of clean renewable fuels. However, most water splitting photo-electrochemical devices are constructed from a stack of materials that generate mismatched electrical currents, resulting in a less-than-optimal operating point and low overall system efficiency.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a hybrid photo-electrochemical and photovoltaic cell (HPEV cell). This multi terminal photovoltaic (PV) and photo-electrochemical cell (PEC) system includes the addition of a third electrical contact to the photovoltaic element and allows for the extraction of surplus current that is unused by the chemical reaction. Therefore, the system can produce electrical power and fuel simultaneously, and electrical power production can occur without negatively impacting the chemical reaction, improving overall efficiency.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle, electrical power can be produced without impeding the fuel production. The electrical route has potential to increase the overall system efficiency.
STATUS: Issued U. S. Patent Application 10,370,766. Available for licensing or collaborative research.