Local scientist generates hydrogen gas from sunlight, water [News]

June 12, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Zara Zhuang, Channel NewsAsia, 11 Jun 2013.

A rooftop set-up capable of harvesting solar energy to split water into hydrogen and oxygen has been developed by a team of researchers led by Dr Ernest Chua, Assistant Professor at the Department of Engineering at the National University of Singapore.

Known as the Photocatalysis-Electrolysis-Photovoltaic Tri-Hybrid System, it captures solar energy through solar panels to power the electrolytic process that splits water into its constituent elements through applying direct current, with specially engineered photocatalytic chemicals enhancing the rate of that splitting in the presence of sunlight.

Hydrogen gas, used in fuel-cell vehicles and a major component of synthetic fuel, is produced in this system at 99.8 per cent purity and at a rate of 100–120 litres per hour (or roughly 1kg per day, under standard compression conditions). At this rate, the hydrogen used directly as fuel could power the communal lights of one floor of a building, which could mean up to $1,500 of annual cost savings per floor of a typical HDB block.

“By using renewable resources such as water and sunlight, our method offers an inexpensive and clean way to produce hydrogen,” said Asst Prof Chua. “The system can be installed easily on building rooftops, converting them into energy-generating buildings.” This reduces their carbon footprint and brings them closer to becoming green buildings, he explained.

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Source: Channel NewsAsia

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