UK researchers seek to use perovskite solar cells for hydrogen production

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Scientists at the University of Bath’s center for sustainable chemical technologies are planning to use perovskite-based solar cells for the production of hydrogen.

In the Graphite-protected CsPbBr3 perovskite photoanodes functionalised with water oxidation catalyst for oxygen evolution in water report, published in Nature Communications, the research team claims to have developed a waterproof cell that functions underwater by splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis. The U.K. university’s researchers are now trying to address the issue of perovskite instability underwater by applying a graphite coating to the material layer.

“The coated cells worked underwater for 30 hours – ten hours longer than the previous record,” the scientists wrote, adding the glue sandwiching the coat to the cells began to fail after 30 hours. They believe stronger glue could help the cell stabilize for longer. “We achieve a record stability of 30h in aqueous electrolyte under constant simulated solar illumination, with currents above 2 mA cm−2 (milliamperes per cm−2) at 1.23 VRHE,” they added.

Instead of costly indium, much cheaper and more sustainable commercially available graphite has been used to coat perovskite cells intended for electrolysis.

The researchers are also attempting to raise the voltage generated by perovskite cells to the level required to perform electrolysis without additional sources of power. “To solve this challenge, the team is adding catalysts to reduce the energy requirement needed to drive the reaction,” the report stated.