HyperSolar, the developer of a breakthrough technology to produce renewable hydrogen using sunlight and any source of water, has announced it has achieved an important milestone in the project.

The company has announced that it had reached 1.25 volts (V), an important milestone achievement in its effort to split water molecules for the production of renewable hydrogen fuel.

HyperSolar’s research is centred on developing a low-cost and submersible hydrogen production particle that can split water molecules under the sun, emulating the core functions of photosynthesis. Each particle is a complete hydrogen generator that contains a novel high voltage solar cell bonded to chemical catalysts by a proprietary encapsulation coating..

The theoretical minimum voltage needed to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen is 1.23 V.  However, in real world systems, 1.5 V or more is generally needed because of the low reaction kinetics. So far, other researchers have only been able to achieve this voltage level through the use of either inefficient materials, such as titanium oxide, or very expensive semiconductors, such as gallium arsenide. Also, overcoming the corrosive degradation of these “artificial photosynthesis” systems remains a monumental challenge and has thus far eluded commercialisation.

HyperSolar has previously solved the degradation problem through the use of its patent-pending protective coating, which has demonstrated long stability. Now, with 1.25 V of water splitting voltage through an inexpensive but efficient solar absorber, the company has achieved something that has never been done in a real-world environment. Future development efforts will focus on increasing the currents and photovoltages beyond 1.5V.

“Our teams at the University of California, Santa Barbara and at the University of Iowa have been working diligently to achieve efficient renewable hydrogen production,” said Tim Young, CEO of HyperSolar. “Our low cost, submersible semiconductor technology does not require a fossil fuel component, making the process truly as ‘green’ as possible. We are pleased that this milestone brings us one step closer to producing hydrogen fuel at or near the point of distribution, and at a cost reasonable enough to ensure industrial scalability.”

Young concluded, “The recent announcements from auto manufacturers, big box retailers, and the state of California, have created nationwide optimism for the future of hydrogen fuel technology. We believe our technology will support the industry as it strives to meet the growing public demand for renewable hydrogen fuel. Currently, most of the industry uses ‘brown’ hydrogen fuel, produced from natural gas, which emits significant amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment.”

With the industry prepared for a hydrogen revolution, due to the impending launch of hydrogen powered fuel cell vehicles, could the humble H2O play a part in the increased need for reliable hydrogen supply?