APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Energy storage and distribution
- On-site generation of chemical precursors and hydrocarbon-based fuels
- Chemical transportation
- Minimizes system losses
- Serves as a preexisting framework for different catalyst and light absorber systems
- Enables front side illumination of cathode and light absorber systems
- Enables gas or vapor phase input
- Multiphase input feeds feasible in both anode and cathode
- Accepts incorporation of commercial PV into the stack
Researchers David Larson and Karl Walczak of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) have developed a device for modular vapor phase photo-electrochemical water splitting. This technology improves on the design of similar devices by replacing the liquid electrolyte ion conductor with a semi-solid ionomer membrane and situating the catalyst-containing electrode in direct contact with the ionic pathway. This allows the device to function through the use of water vapor, eliminating liquid water from the system.
Preexisting systems for photo-electrochemical water splitting incur problems with low electrolyte conductivity, product separation, bubble management, corrosion, and system complexity. The Berkeley Lab method utilizes a semi-solid membrane, light absorber components, and micro-wire electrode plates to shorten ion path length, avoid freezing, reduce contact resistance, minimize the need for protective coatings on the light absorber, decrease bubbling, reduce system weight and complexity, reduce parasitic light absorption, and more effectively control electric field and current flow.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle.
STATUS: Published U. S. Patent Application 16/210,144 (Publication No. US2019-0181521). Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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