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Integrated solar-driven system for electrochemical energy storage and water electrolysis for H2 production

A team from UCLA and colleagues from Tarbiat Modares University and Shahed University in Iran have devised an integrated solar-powered system for both electrochemical energy storage and water electrolysis.

They synthesized a nickel-cobalt-iron layered double hydroxide (Ni-Co-Fe LDH) on a nickel foam substrate using a fast, one-step electrodeposition approach. The Ni-Co-Fe LDH exhibited excellent electrochemical properties both as an active electrode material in supercapacitors, and as a catalyst in the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) for water splitting. A paper on their work is published in the journal Energy Storage Materials.

Employed as the positive electrode in a supercapacitor, along with activated carbon as the negative electrode in an asymmetric configuration, the ultrathin and porous Ni-Co-Fe LDH nanoplatelets delivered an ultrahigh specific energy of 57.5 Wh kg−1 with specific power of 37.9 kW kg−1 and an excellent cycle life.

As an OER electrocatalyst, Ni-Co-Fe LDH exhibited superior electrocatalytic performances with a very low overpotential of 0.207 V versus a reference hydrogen electrode (RHE) at 10.0 mA cm−2, and a small Tafel slope of 31 mV dec−1.

The team attributed the superior energy storage and catalytic OER properties of the Ni-Co-Fe LDH nanoplatelet array to both the synergistic effects among the metal species and the unique mesoporous structure of the LDH that provides facilitated charge/ion diffusion pathways and more available active sites.

Traditional hydrogen fuel cells and supercapacitors have two electrodes: one positive and one negative. The device developed at UCLA has a third electrode that acts as both a supercapacitor, which stores energy, and as a device for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen. All three electrodes connect to a single solar cell that serves as the device’s power source, and the electrical energy harvested by the solar cell can be stored in one of two ways: electrochemically in the supercapacitor or chemically as hydrogen.

People need fuel to run their vehicles and electricity to run their devices. Now you can make both electricity and fuel with a single device.

—Richard Kaner, senior author and a UCLA distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and of materials science and engineering

Combining a supercapacitor and the water-splitting technology into a single unit, Kaner said, is an advance similar to the first time a phone, web browser and camera were combined on a smartphone. The new technology may eventually lead to new applications that even the researchers haven’t considered yet, Kaner said.

The researchers designed the electrodes at the nanoscale to ensure the greatest surface area would be exposed to water, which increases the amount of hydrogen the device can produce and also stores more charge in the supercapacitor. Although the device the researchers made would fit in the palm of your hand, Kaner said it would be possible to make larger versions because the components are inexpensive.

Resources

  • Yasin Shabangoli, Mohammad S. Rahmanifar, Maher F. El-Kady, Abolhassan Noori, Mir F. Mousavi, Richard B. Kaner (2017) “An integrated electrochemical device based on earth-abundant metals for both energy storage and conversion,” Energy Storage Materials doi: 10.1016/j.ensm.2017.09.010

Comments

HarveyD

This process could probably be fine tuned as a better way to simultaneously capture solar energy and/or split water for H2 production.

Could be ideal in all sunny places.

Paroway

Capture hydrogen as a back up heat source for a heat pump and electricity for transport and all else. This makes maginfies the utility of a solar package.

And Bri

I clearly said that when cheap hydrogen will be produced. than sell it everywhere not in costly fuel cars but in low cost bi-fuel gasoline-hydrogen ice car. That way the transition to low pollution fuel will be easier.

CheeseEater88

I don't think that would be worth the effort And Bri. Yes, it can easily be done, same with any gaseous ICE version, but i don't think the costs benefits would be there.

The fuel cell gets its benefit from being far more efficient than a gasoline /diesel engine. If you just take hydrogen, and burn it in an ICE, you might as well take methane or propane and burn that instead. Both would be significantly cleaner than gasoline, but there would be drawbacks due to initial cost and range.

If we were to generate H2 in our homes from electrolysis, or some of these more advanced methods, we could take that waste heat and put it toward heating hot water, or some radiant heating. H2 in fuel stacks is almost 2x as efficient as a typical gasoline car, exaggerating a bit but it's noticeably better than all but hybrid setups.

If we come up with cheap ways to create hydrogen, and electricity where its not competing with eachother, but rather in unity, this could prove advantageous for almost any grid application, and a good foot hold for building out hydrogen networks for transportation.


And Bri

Hey folks dom't believe these pseudo scientific lies. With a pure fuelcell car or truck you will be struck some day and will need to attach a becycle to your trunck to pedal the remaining of the trip. or maybe sell uour guelcell car where you are struck and buy a small gas car to finish the trip.

Engineer-Poet

Gor you halfwit, BMW did the multi-fuel hydrogen car quite a few years back.  It only got 256 HP out of a V-12.

Now beat it.

Engineer-Poet

As usual, the greenie gas-freaks are totally missing the most important part of this news release:

ultrahigh specific energy of 57.5 Wh/kg with specific power of 37.9 kW/kg and an excellent cycle life.

This specific energy is well into battery territory, better than lead-acid at 30-40 Wh/kg.  The specific power is stunning.

What, specifically does this mean?  Let me lead you through the logic.  A 1500 kg vehicle travelling at 70 MPH has a whole 204 watt-hours of kinetic energy.  About 3.5 kg of these capacitors (or perhaps it's just the + electrode, with carbon electrode, electrolyte and casing extra) could store enough energy to accelerate the vehicle to 70 MPH, or absorb all the energy of braking it to a stop.  This same 3.5 kg of material would be able to supply 134 kW of power—a whopping 180 horsepower.

This totally inverts the relationship between engine and energy storage in a hybrid vehicle; the electric side becomes primary.  Something like a 500 cc 2-cylinder engine would suffice completely to run the average sedan; for towing, you'd be able to manage with a 1.5 liter.  The ultracaps and motor drives would provide all power for acceleration to highway speed, absorb all braking energy down to a few MPH, and allow for all-wheel drive with no transfer cases or differentials.

You get a car with stellar performance, options for electronic handling enhancment, and fuel economy that a Prius can only envy—without having to fill it full of expensive batteries or scarce lithium.

If this material can stand up to automotive environmental conditions, it will be EVERYWHERE in 10 years.

HarveyD

As E-P become a believer of H2/e-economy and REs?

Engineer-Poet

Greenie gas-freak isn't smart enough to tell when he's being ridiculed.

HarveyD

Is our Poet getting smart or brash and insolent?

Regardless of his thinking, clean and save energy production and storage will evolve. Solar energy will be leading in many (sunny) places before 2040.

H2 and FCs could play an important role for extended range e-buses, large e-trucks, e-locomotives, e-ships, heavy e-machinery, power grids and e-airplanes.

Engineer-Poet

You're either too stupid to understand what you read even when the reasoning is laid out for you step-by-step, or you're so blinded by the Greenie obsession with that gas as the One True Solution that you cannot grasp when someone is specifically NOT talking about it because it's irrelevant.

I don't know what's wrong with you, Harvey, but it's definitely you.

HarveyD

What is wrong with our anti-evolution Poet?

Why does he have to be right all the time?

Does he have a DT like personality disorder?

Engineer-Poet
What is wrong with our anti-evolution Poet?

Things are not going to evolve into your hydrogen economy for very good reasons.  Reasons that you simply ignore instead of attempting to understand and debate.

Why does he have to be right all the time?

Endlessly repeating Greenie dogma which implicitly supports fossil fuels does not make you right.  One of the reasons hydrogen isn't any solution is because it is most cheaply made from fossil methane.

Does he have a DT like personality disorder?

You often add partly relevant or totally irrelevant comments on posts.  Very often those comments are the only ones anyone leaves.  Do you have a personality disorder where you have a compulsive need to leave little droppings, so people will know you exist?  You're not contributing anything of any use to others.

HarveyD

Extracting H2 from NG may be an interim cheaper/easier solution, heavily supported by NG producers.

Extracting H2 from water with clean solar energy (potentially supported by electricity generating/distributing groups) may become another way to mass produce environmentally clean H2 at a much lower cost?

Most NPPs will be decommissioned (at a very high cost and safety challenges) and progressively replaced with clean REs with appropriate storage units. China may be an exception to fight current unsustainable air pollution. China's nuclear projects may be scaled back due to rising cost and lower cost REs.

Engineer-Poet
Extracting H2 from NG may be an interim cheaper/easier solution, heavily supported by NG producers.

It's how the vast majority of H2 is made world-wide.

Extracting H2 from water with clean solar energy (potentially supported by electricity generating/distributing groups) may become another way to mass produce environmentally clean H2 at a much lower cost?

NG is much cheaper even at world prices.  If you dispute this, show what it will cost given your figures for cost of electric power, hardware, O&M and amortization at 7%/year.  Don't forget to set a fixed lifetime for amortization, either 20 years or the expected unit lifespan, and make sure that your cost of power is enough to pay for your generators (in other words, it can't be free).

I throw out this challenge because I know you are not competent to do this.  If you are not competent to opine, the least you can do is be quiet.

Most NPPs will be decommissioned (at a very high cost and safety challenges) and progressively replaced with clean REs with appropriate storage units.

The "appropriate storage units" are prohibitively expensive and will remain so.

If it costs too much to decommission NPPs, the obvious thing to do is never decommission them.  Refurbish them as things wear out and run them forever.  This has good effects on EROEI, as the energy used to construct the plant in the first place pays much bigger dividends.

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