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Solar to chemical energy findings

A team of researchers headed by the Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) has made fundamental discoveries about the processes in photoelectrochemical cells that could have an impact on solar to chemical energy conversion.

By Renewable Energy Focus staff

The KIT Institute for Functional Interfaces (IFG) has looked at the conversion process using titanium oxide-based photocatalysts in the direct conversion of solar energy into chemical energy – for example hydrogen generation by water splitting.

With support from the universities of St Andrews (Scotland) and Bochum and Helmholtz-Forschungszentrum (German), the researchers have gathered new findings on the fundamental mechanisms of photochemistry on titanium dioxide (TiO2).

TiO2, or titania, is a photoactive material occurring in nature in the rutile and anatase modifications. Anatase modifications is being characterised by a ten times higher photochemical activity.

When the white TiO2 powder – also used as a pigment in plants and sunscreens – is exposed to light, electrons are excited and can, for example, split water into oxygen and hydrogen.

The researchers have also been able to determine the lifetime of the light-induced electronic excitations inside the TiO2 crystals.

Head of IFG, Professor Christof Wöll, says: “A short lifetime means that the excited electrons fall back again at once: We witness some kind of an internal short circuit. In the case of a long lifetime, the electrons remain in the excited state long enough to be able to reach the surface of the crystal and to induce chemical processes.”

He adds: “The objective is to develop photoactive materials with higher efficiencies and longer lifetimes.”

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Comments

Anumakonda said

22 April 2011
New Processes in photoelectrochemical cells t on solar to chemical energy conversion.by Karlsruhe Institute for Technology (KIT) Scientists is indeed a new and innovative approach which will help solar Energy to advance.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

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