NREL scientists advance solar thermal chemistry to produce hydrogen

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NRELAccording to the scientists’ analysis, perovskite materials may have the potential to play an important role in the process of producing hydrogen in a renewable manner.

Hydrogen has become an important carrier for storing energy produced by renewable resources, replacing fossil fuels for transportation, for the production of ammonia, and for other industrial applications. The key to successfully using hydrogen as a fuel is being able to meet the Department of Energy’s hydrogen Energy Earthshot — a recently announced goal of reducing the cost of clean hydrogen by 80 percent to $1 per kilogram within a decade.

Scientists at NREL analyzed the production of solar thermal chemical hydrogen production (STCH), which may be more energy efficient than producing hydrogen by common electrolysis methods. Electrolysis requires electricity to split water into hydrogen and oxygen. STCH relies on a two-step chemical process in which metal oxides are exposed to temperatures above 1,400 degrees Celsius and then reoxidized with steam at lower temperatures to produce hydrogen.

Related research published in therenewable energymagazine.

The study complements ongoing materials discovery research by studying system-level design and techno-economic analysis to integrate possible materials into solar fuel platforms and support the Department of Energy’s HydroGEN program. Material discovery in the HydroGEN program involves machine learning, defect calculation, and experimental work to develop new perovskite materials. The researchers needed to identify perovskite materials that could handle the required high temperatures while meeting performance targets.

A conceptual solar thermochemical hydrogen production platform

This work demonstrates part of a portfolio of techno-economic analysis, focusing on hydrogen production pathways, each with its strengths and weaknesses. For example, electrolysis is commercially available and the required electricity can come from photovoltaic (PV). However, the photovoltaic cells used capture only a portion of the solar spectrum. STCH uses the entire spectrum. Concentrated solar thermal energy enables STCH to produce chemical reactions.

The scientists note that active research to determine the best material for the STCH process is critical to the success of this hydrogen production method. Get more cutting-edge research progress visit:

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology.

NREL scientists advance solar thermal chemistry to produce hydrogen

This is certainly a very challenging area, and it has a lot of unsolved research questions, mainly in terms of materials.

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