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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/R012164/1
Title: Solar Optofluidics (SOLO): Water Splitting beyond the 1.23 eV Thermodynamic Constraints
Principal Investigator: Xuan, Dr J
Other Investigators:
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
East China University of Science & Techn Scottish Hydrogen & Fuel Cell Asso SHFCA Yale University
Department: Sch of Engineering and Physical Science
Organisation: Heriot-Watt University
Scheme: First Grant - Revised 2009
Starts: 01 January 2018 Ends: 30 June 2019 Value (£): 101,118
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Electrochemical Science & Eng. Materials Synthesis & Growth
Microsystems
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Energy
Related Grants:
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
04 Oct 2017 Engineering Prioritisation Panel Meeting 4 October 2017 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
Renewable hydrogen will play an important role in the UK's energy future for low carbon transport, heating, grid-scale energy storage and CO2 capture/utilisation. The UK's hydrogen demand would reach 143~860 TWh/year by 2050, while the current production capacity is only 27 TWh/year. Conversion of abundant sunlight to produce H2 is one of attractive approach to meet the demand. Among various solar H2 technology, photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting has gained much attention due to its operational flexibility, reduced electron-hole recombination and natural separation of H2 and O2 in two electrodes.

Learning from the historic trajectory of solar PV commercialisation, the key to deliver market acceptable PEC hydrogen production will be (1) enabling the use of much cheaper materials (such as silicon) and (2) significantly increasing the STF efficiency to at least 20%.

SOLO aims to remove the 1.23 eV thermodynamic restraints from the PEC water splitting system, by developing a pH-differential strategy to alter the individual equilibrium potentials of anodic (OER) and cathodic (HER) half reactions, thus reducing the energy barrier. A novel membraneless optofluidic platform is proposed to accommodate the pH-differential design, where acid and alkaline electrolyte will be able to co-exist in a single cell. Promising low bandgap materials will be demonstrated in the SOLO platform to achieve cost effectiveness and high STF efficiency.

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Organisation Website: http://www.hw.ac.uk