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Sea water - a new resource for energy production

2016-06-16 11:00

One of the leading Japanese universities has developed a new efficient technology that allows to produce hydrogen peroxide, suitable for use in fuel cells.

The new technology, developed by Japanese researchers, is the first method that uses the acceleration of a chemical reaction to influence the catalyst by sunlight, resulting in the maximum effect and the possibility of using the thus obtained hydrogen peroxide in fuel cells.

The research project was headed by Shunichi Fukuzumi and the results of his research scientists published in a popular scientific journal.

Now fuel cells work mainly on hydrogen gas, but the variant proposed by the Fukuzumi team has a number of advantages, first of all, hydrogen peroxide is easier to store at high density. Today's technologies allow storing hydrogen gas using high pressure or low temperatures, hydrogen peroxide is in this case safer, both during storage and during transportation. The only problem was that scientists could not find effective photocatalytic methods for the production of liquid hydrogen peroxide - there were technologies that did not use solar radiation, but energy costs made them inappropriate.

But the team Fukuzumi created another cell with a catalyst - a kind of solar battery that forms hydrogen peroxide. When sunlight is focused on the photocatalyst, an accelerated chemical reaction begins - the sea water is oxidized and the oxygen level decreases, resulting in the formation of hydrogen peroxide.

The research team of Fukuzumi explained that the concentration of hydrogen peroxide in seawater after sunlight acted on the photocatalyst for 24 hours was approximately 48 millimoles, which is an order of magnitude greater than the past (in pure water, the level of hydrogen peroxide was about 2 millimoles). 

Scientists were interested in such a significant gap in the numbers, and they found out that the matter in the negatively charged chlorine present in seawater, it is responsible for increasing the reaction rate and contributing to the increase in water levels of hydrogen peroxide.

According to the researchers, a new technology for converting solar energy into electricity has an efficiency of about 0.3%, the efficiency of the photocatalytic method (using the acceleration of the chemical reaction) of the production of hydrogen peroxide is 0.55%, and that of the fuel cell is 50%.

Of course, the overall efficiency of the new energy production technology is quite high, but still conventional solar panels have proved more effective to date. Professor Shunichi Fukuzumi and his colleagues believe that the effectiveness of the new method can be improved if using improved materials for the photoelectrochemical cell, in addition, specialists plan to find ways to reduce the cost of energy production.

Last update: 16.05.2018

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