Institute of Electrical Engineering,Chinese Academy of Sciences
Research Progress

Researchers Develop New Material and High-temperature Solar Reactor for H2 Production

Solar thermochemical water-splitting (STWS) is a green and environment-friendly technology for hydrogen production, which has the advantages of the full solar spectral utilization, no H2/O2 separation, and higher theoretical solar-to-fuel efficiency (ηsolar-to-fuel = 68%) compared with other H2 production techniques. However, the STWS development is restricted by the poor performance of the reactive material and the design and manufacture of high-temperature solar reactor.

Researchers led by Prof. LI Xin’ group from the Institute of Electrical Engineering (IEE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and their collaborators from the Physical-technical Institute (FTI), Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan have proposed an oxygen vacancy calculation method and a high-throughput exploration strategy for inorganic perovskite materials. They predicted and synthesized new Cr-perovskite materials which is the key for efficient hydrogen production. The new materials have a maximum H2 yield of 449.8 μmol g-1 and an average H2 production rate of 4.5 μmol g-1 min-1, indicating that the excellent comprehensive performance exceeds that of previous study reports.

Moreover, a 10kW solar reactor prototype is designed and manufactured to examine the practical performance of the new material. The reactor can withstand a temperature as high as 1400 oC. Multi experiments are completed to investigate the influence of reaction temperature, pressure and reactant concentration on the performance of H2 production.

This work was supported by the National Key R&D Program of China and the International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Related findings were published in Inorganic Chemistry Frontiers with the title "Coupling of the water-splitting mechanism and doping-mixture method to design a novel Cr-perovskite for rapid and efficient solar thermochemical H2 production" and "Neural network and experimental thermodynamics study of YCrO3-δ for efficient solar thermochemical hydrogen production".


Fig. 1. The comparison of hydrogen production yield and rate of perovskite materials


 Fig. 2. The photo of hydrogen production using solar thermochemical reactor

Fig. 3. Experimental data of hydrogen production with solar thermochemical reactor