HyperSolar, Inc. (HYSR: OTC/QB) in California claims it has found solutions for the cost issues that have stymied fuel developers trying create green hydrogen. HyperSolar describes its system as a “solar hydrogen generator” that integrates the electrolysis function directly into a solar cell.
For over a century, splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen using electrolysis has been well known. Theoretically, this technology can be used to produce an unlimited amount of clean and renewable hydrogen fuel to power a carbon-free world. However, in practice, current commercial electrolysis technologies require (a) expensive electricity, and (b) highly purified water to prevent fouling of system components.
But Hypersolar’s new system combines a photoabsorber and a catalyst in a transparent water-filled plastic bag. The company calls it a ‘baggie system.’ The bag inflates when exposed to sunlight as the hydrogen and oxygen form inside. In December 2014 the company announced it has achieved 1.25 volts in its electrolytic element, which is sufficient to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
HyperSolar is using nano- and micro-particles to cut down on materials costs. Since the electrolysis takes place at a nano-level fewer photovoltaic elements are required and this reduces over-all cost. Before HyperSolar’s recent achievements only photovoltaic cells using expensive silicon and titanium had been able to meet the voltage requirements.
In the process of splitting a water molecule, input energy is transferred into the chemical bonds of the resulting hydrogen molecule. So in essence, manufactured hydrogen is simply a carrier or battery-like storage of the input energy. If the input energy is from fossil fuels, such as oil and gas, then dirty carbon fossil fuel energy is simply transferred into hydrogen. If the input energy is renewable such as solar and wind, then new and clean energy is stored in hydrogen.
Since hydrogen is an energy carrier, the most energy it can store is 100% of the input energy. However, conventional systems approach to electrolysis lose so much of the input energy in system components, wires and electrodes that only a fraction the solar electricity actually makes it into the hydrogen molecules. This translates to high production cost and is the fundamental problem with water splitting for hydrogen production. HyperSolar is addressing this problem with its low cost and energy efficient technology.
And Hypersolar’s methods don’t require clean water. Conventional electrolysis requires highly purified clean water to prevent fouling of system components. This prevents current technology from using the large quantities of free water from oceans, rivers, industrial waste and municipal waste as feedstock. HyperSolar’s technology is designed to use any natural water or waste water for the unlimited production of renewable hydrogen.
The biggest problem with submerging photovoltaic elements in water for direct electrolysis is corrosion and short circuiting. To address this problem, the researchers have developed a protective coating that encapsulates the nanoparticle to allow it to function for a long periods of time in a wide range of water conditions without corrosion. This allows the nanoparticles to be submerged or dissolved into virtually any source of water, such as sea water, runoff water, river water, or waste water, instead of purified distilled water.
By managing the science of electrolysis at the nano-level, they believe that our nanoparticle technology can deliver unmatched cost reductions to enable the commercial production of renewable hydrogen from any sources of water, with sunlight as the only source of energy.