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UA leads a European project to design an innovative device capable of generating hydrogen from solar energy

The goal is to address the depletion of fossil fuels as the main source of energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions

 

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Partnership consortium at the first meeting of the European project FotoH2 coordinated by the UA

 

FotoH2_logoAlicante. Wednesday, 14 February 2018

One of the main challenges of the 21st century is to solve the growing energy demand to cope with the depletion of fossil fuels, as well as to reduce CO2 emissions. In this sense, artificial photosynthesis is presented as one of the most sustainable techniques to get hydrogen as fuel from two resources as abundant as solar energy and water. European FotoH2 project is coordinated by the University of Alicante and focuses precisely on the design and development of a photoelectrochemical device capable of producing direct conversion of solar energy into the chemical energy contained in the bonds of hydrogen molecules.

"Artificial photosynthesis is one of the alternatives that can help reduce our dependence on non-renewable energies. With this in mind, the project is developed to design a device for converting solar energy into chemical energy (hydrogen from water photoelectrolysis) that also provides a method to accumulate energy, as explained by project's main researcher Roberto Gómez, from the UA Department of Physical Chemistry and member of University Institute of Electrochemistry.

The approach adopted in FotoH2 is highly innovative, especially the design of the device in the form of flat panels and the polymeric electrolyte membranes, also used in other electrochemical devices such as water electrolysers or fuel cells. 

Among other objectives, this project is intended to make the device produce pure and dry hydrogen with cells built from affordable and abundant materials.  "In order for hydrogen to be economically competitive with conventional technologies, we must reduce, on the one hand, the costs associated with its production; on the other, the risks involved in its transport and storage", the UA researcher stated.

Obtaining renewable energy efficiently is one of the most emerging lines of research. In this regard, according to the UA researcher, solar radiation provides energy to the Earth with an intensity of 120,000 TW, an amount that is higher than the technological consumption made by man by four orders of magnitude." "It is, therefore, attractive to address energy demand with renewable energy sources from the point of view of photochemical conversion and accumulation of solar energy", Roberto Gómez added.

 

European partners

The FotoH2 research project will be carried out between January 2018 and December 2020 with European Union Horizon 2020 programme funding. Other than the UA University Institute of Electrochemistry researchers, it is participated in by the firms Broadbit Energy Technologies Sro (Slovakia), Hygear BV (Holland) and Advanced Technology Solutions SRL (Italy), as well as by the Italian Institute of Advanced Energy Technologies "Consiglio Nazionale Delle Ricerche - ITAE".

The University of Alicante campus of San Vicente del Raspeig has hosted the first FotoH2 meeting with all its members on 13 and 14 February 2018.

 

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