HyperSolar has reached the critical stage of being about to generate hydrogen through electrolysis – using just 1.55 volts (V).

This is a significant milestone achievement in its effort to split water molecules for the production of renewable hydrogen fuel – on a commercial scale. While the company had previously met the challenge of exceeding 1.23V, the theoretical minimum voltage needed to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen, a minimum of 1.5V is needed to do so for commercially viable real world applications.

Examples of these commercial applications include hydrogen-stations for fuel-cell vehicles, or warehouse transportation for big box retailers. The 1.55V breakthrough, in a low-cost single solar cell element, is representative of the tremendous progression of the technology, as the company announced its 1.4V breakthrough just one month ago. The results were recorded at the University of Iowa campus research location where researchers are currently focused on further increasing the voltages and currents achievable from their inexpensive light driven hydrogen generation particles.

Following this breakthrough, the company will focus its efforts on increasing the hydrogen production efficiencies of these particles by bonding the ideal fuel production catalyst to the low-cost high-voltage solar cell. In order to achieve this, the company is currently exploring two parallel approaches. The first is to identify materials that interface with well-known hydrogen production catalysts, such as the platinum on solar particles, to improve sunlight-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency. The second is to pursue methods that further increase photo voltages of solar particles to greater than 1.7V that allow integration of cheaper earth abundant catalysts without significant loss in hydrogen production efficiency.

“This announcement represents one of the most important milestone achievements the company has made to date,” said Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar. “Both the University of Iowa and University of California, Santa Barbara teams have been instrumental in spurring the speed at which our technology has developed, resulting in this voltage breakthrough. We are focused on identifying the next steps for the technology that will make it possible for us to scale up to make a commercial technology that can produce hydrogen fuel at or near the point of distribution, using only water and sunlight.”