Avigail Landman, right, and Rawan Halabi with an experimental prototype device. (photo from Ashernet)
Researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a prototype system for efficient and safe production of hydrogen using only solar energy. Published in the journal Joule, the study was led by Avigail Landman, a doctoral student in the Grand Technion Energy Program, together with Rawan Halabi, a master’s student from the faculty of materials science and engineering, under the joint guidance of Technion and University of Porto (Portugal) professors. The system contains a tandem cell solar device. Some of the sun’s radiation is absorbed in the upper layer, which is made of semi-transparent iron oxide. The radiation that is not absorbed in this layer passes through it and is subsequently absorbed by a photovoltaic cell. Together, the two layers provide the energy needed to decompose the water into hydrogen and oxygen. The innovation is a continuation of the theoretical breakthrough by the Technion research team presented in a March 2017 article in Nature Materials. Hydrogen is a highly sought-after material in many areas of our lives and, today, most of the world’s hydrogen is produced from natural gas, but this process emits carbon dioxide, whose environmental damage is well known.