Solar Center Tries to Produce Hydrogen from PV Cells

A U.S. solar energy center has received funding from a Japanese research group to produce hydrogen from solar cells.

COCOA, Florida, US, 2001-04-05 <> The Hydrogen Research & Applications Center at the Florida Solar Energy Center has received US$225,000 for three years from the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) in Kyoto. Researchers from FSEC and the U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado will work under a collaborative research project entitled, ‘Photoelectrochemical Water Splitting for Hydrogen Production Using Photovoltaic Cell Combined Thin-Film Catalyst.’ The goal is to develop a process that generates hydrogen fuel from a photovoltaic cell that can split water into oxygen and hydrogen to create hydrogen fuel. “Hydrogen will be the fuel of choice for the future,” says FSEC director David Block. “It is a clean, abundant fuel” that can be used directly as fuel for internal combustion engines or fuel cells. “It is a tough challenge, but we already have some interesting results,” adds researcher Neelkanth Dhere. Research on hydrogen production from renewable resources is the most challenging and difficult area of hydrogen research and is the key to utilizing hydrogen as the replacement for gasoline in vehicles. Researchers from RITE, including senior researcher Hiroaki Mametsuka and chief scientist Eiji Suzuki, have visited FSEC, while U.S. researchers have gone to the Kyoto centre. FSEC’s hydrogen center partners with the U.S. Department of Energy and NASA to bring applications for hydrogen from the space program to terrestrial use. The research will help NASA meet the fuel needs of the shuttle fleet, and help automakers make the transition from diminishing fossil fuels. The Florida Solar Energy Center is a research institute of the University of Central Florida, and is the largest state-supported energy research center in the U.S. Current research includes solar water and pool heating, solar electric systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems and hydrogen fuel.