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JCAP team reports first complete “artificial leaf”; >10% solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency

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Researchers at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP) report the development of the first complete, efficient, safe, integrated solar-driven system—an “artificial leaf”—for splitting water to produce hydrogen. Fuels Hydrogen Production Solar Solar fuels

2015 33

ARPA-E awarding $30M to 12 hybrid solar projects; conversion and storage

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The US Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E) is awarding $30 million in funding to 12 projects through its Full-Spectrum Optimized Conversion and Utilization of Sunlight (FOCUS) program, which is aimed at developing new hybrid solar energy converters and hybrid energy storage systems that can deliver low-cost, high-efficiency solar energy on demand. Schematics of technology areas addressed by FOCUS a) Hybrid solar converter.

On the road to solar fuels and chemicals

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In a new paper in the journal Nature Materials (in an edition focused on materials for sustainable energy), a team from Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has reviewed milestones in the progress of solid-state photoelectrocatalytic technologies toward delivering solar fuels and chemistry. Noting the “ important advances ” in solar fuels research, the review team also noted that the largest scientific and technical milestones are still ahead.

2016 16

SOLAR-JET project demonstrates solar-driven thermochemical conversion of CO2 and water to jet fuel

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SOLAR-JET concentrated thermochemical reactor. The EU-funded SOLAR-JET project has demonstrated the production of aviation kerosene from concentrated sunlight, CO 2 captured from air, and water. Aviation Carbon Capture and Conversion (CCC) Fuels Solar Solar fuels

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New $30M ARPA-E program to develop new solar conversion and storage technologies; targeting higher solar penetration in mix

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The primary goal of this funding opportunity ( DE-FOA-0000949 ) is to provide disruptive new solar conversion and storage technology options to enable a much higher penetration of solar energy generation into the US energy mix. Novel approaches to high T solar conversion.

CalTech, Berkeley Lab team uses new high-throughput method to identify promising photoanodes for solar fuels

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Researchers globally are exploring a range of target solar fuels fuels, from hydrogen gas to liquid hydrocarbons; producing any of these fuels involves splitting water. Tiered screening pipeline for accelerated discovery of solar fuels photoanodes.

MIT team proposes process to recycle lead-acid batteries to fabricate solar cells

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Researchers at MIT have devised an environmentally-responsible process to recycle materials from discarded automotive lead-acid batteries to fabricate efficient organolead halide perovskite solar cells (PSCs)—a promising new large-scale and cost-competitive photovoltaic technology.

Rice team demonstrates plasmonic hot-electron solar water-splitting technology; simpler, cheaper and efficient

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Researchers at Rice have demonstrated an efficient new way to use solar energy for water splitting. Structure and mechanism of operation of plasmonic photocathode for plasmon-mediated direct electron injection to drive solar-to-chemical energy conversion. (a)

2015 17

GWU team develops cost-effective solar process to produce lime for cement without CO2 emission

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Conventional thermal decomposition production of lime (left) versus STEP direct solar conversion of calcium carbonate to calcium oxide (right). Climate Change Emissions Solar

2012 34

Swiss team develops effective and low-cost solar water-splitting device; 14.2% solar-to-hydrogen efficiency

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The prototype system is made up of three interconnected, new-generation, crystalline silicon solar cells attached to an electrolysis system that does not rely on rare metals. Schematic overview of the solar-driven hydrogen generator. Hydrogen Hydrogen Production Solar Solar fuels

GWU team uses one-pot process to co-generate H2 and solid carbon from water and CO2; solar fuels

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The work is a further development of their work with STEP (solar thermal electrochemical process)—an efficient solar chemical process, based on a synergy of solar thermal and endothermic electrolyses, introduced by Licht and his colleagues in 2009.

OSU team develops new aqueous lithium-iodine solar flow battery; 20% energy savings over Li-I batteries

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After debuting the first solar air battery—a photo-assisted charging Li-O 2 battery—last fall ( earlier post ), researchers at The Ohio State University led by Professor Yiying Wu have now developed a new system combining a solar cell and a battery into a single device.

2015 28

US to pump millions into solar energy

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Described by many as the ultimate transport solution, solar fuels will finally receive a significant financial investment as the US Department of Energy (DOE) announced plans to invest up to $366million to establish three new Energy Innovation Hubs. The Hubs will focus on three key areas including developing an effective solar energy to chemical fuel conversion [.].

DOE awarding up to $80M for supercritical CO2 pilot plant

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The new facility will support the future commercialization of sCO 2 Brayton cycle energy conversion systems by testing and demonstrating the potential energy efficiency and cost benefits of this technology. Carbon Capture and Conversion (CCC) Emissions Power Generation

2016 48

JCAP researchers propose artificial photosynthetic system for high-yield production of ethanol

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The annual production rate of > 90 wt% ethanol using such a photosynthesis system operating at 10 mA cm -2 (12% solar-to-fuel (STF) efficiency) can be 15.27 JCAP was established by the US Department of Energy in 2010 as an Energy Innovation Hub, with the goal of developing an integrated solar energy-to-chemical fuel conversion system and moving this system from the bench-top discovery phase to a scale where it can be commercialized. Ethanol Solar Solar fuels

2015 39

EPFL/Technion team develops “champion” nanostructures for efficient solar water-splitting to produce hydrogen

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Batteries, fuel cells and solar-energy conversion devices have emerged as a class of important technologies that increasingly rely on electrodes derived from nanoparticles. Hydrogen Production Nanotech Solar Hydrogen bubbles as they appear in a photoelectrochemical cell. ©

UC Berkeley hybrid semiconductor nanowire-bacteria system for direct solar-powered production of chemicals from CO2 and water

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Researchers at UC Berkeley have developed an artificial photosynthetic scheme for the direct solar-powered production of value-added chemicals from CO 2 and water using a two-step process involving a biocompatible light-capturing nanowire array with a direct interface with microbial systems.

2015 12

EPFL team develops low-cost water splitting cell with solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of 12.3%

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A team led by Dr. Michael Grätzel at EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) in Switzerland has developed a highly efficient and low-cost water-splitting cell combining an advanced perovskite tandem solar cell and a bi-functional Earth-abundant catalyst.

Israeli company reports successful stage 1 testing of solar CO2-to-fuels technology

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Israel-based NewCO2Fuels (NCF), a subsidiary of GreenEarth Energy Limited in Australia, reported completion of stage 1 testing of its proof-of-concept system for the conversion of CO 2 into fuels using solar energy. Driving the system using a solar-based heat source (100% renewable).

Compact pilot plant for solar to liquid fuels production

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Partners from Germany and Finland in the SOLETAIR project are building a compact pilot plant for the production of gasoline, diesel and kerosene from solar energy, regenerative hydrogen and carbon dioxide. An electrolysis unit developed by Lappeenranta University of Technology (LUT) produces the required hydrogen by means of solar power. Fuels Hydrogen Hydrogen Production Solar fuels

New inexpensive catalyst for conversion of CO2 to CO could help with storage of renewable energy

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Storage of solar and other sources of renewable electricity may be enabled by the catalytic production of fuels such as H 2 or reduced carbon-containing compounds via the electro-chemical reduction of H 2 O or CO 2 , respectively. As such, development of Bi-based cathodes for conversion of CO 2 to CO would represent an important development for the fields of CO 2 electrocatalysis and renewable energy conversion. Carbon Capture and Conversion (CCC) Fuels Power Generation

PNNL solar thermochemical reaction system can reduce fuel consumption in natural gas power plants by about 20%; future potential for transportation fuels

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PNNL’s thermochemical conversion device is installed in front of a concentrating solar power dish. PNNL’s system uses a mirrored parabolic dish to direct sunbeams to a central point, where the thermochemical device uses the solar heat to produce syngas form natural gas.

2013 20

BMW ActiveE Drivers To Benefit From Cheaper Solar Power

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comes the oft-sneering question when the subject of electric cars is brought up in polite conversation. However, BMW ActiveE drivers will soon be able to reply "from my discounted solar "Yeah, but where does the electricity come from, huh?" Sneery it may be, but there's an underlying point if your main source of power is something like coal.

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University of Adelaide team exploring novel configuration for solar hybridized coal-to-liquids process

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Simplified flowsheet of the proposed solar hybridized coal- to-liquids (SCTL) process with the proposed solar hybridized dual fluidized bed (SDFB) gasifier. For a solar multiple of 3 and bed material storage capacity of 16 h, the annual solar share is 21.8%

3-D nanocone solar cell boosts PV conversion efficiency by nearly 80%

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With the creation of a 3-D nanocone-based solar cell platform, a team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jun Xu has boosted the light-to-power conversion efficiency of photovoltaics by nearly 80 percent.

Stanford’s GCEP awards $10.5M for research on renewable energy; solar cells, batteries, renewable fuels and bioenergy

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million for seven research projects designed to advance a broad range of renewable energy technologies, including solar cells, batteries, renewable fuels and bioenergy. The mineral perovskite is a promising, low-cost material for enhancing the efficiency of silicon solar cells. The goal of this project is to develop a hybrid perovskite-silicon solar cell that significantly improves the light-to-energy conversion efficiency of conventional cells.

NIST team boosts performance of solar-powered hydrogen generation in stable, lower-cost device

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A photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell is essentially a solar cell that produces hydrogen gas instead of electric current. One problem is that the semiconductors used to achieve the best conversion efficiency also tend to be highly susceptible to corrosion by the cell’s water-based electrolyte.

2013 23

Cambridge team demonstrates light-driven photoreforming of unprocessed biomass to H2 at room temperature

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The system operates under visible light, is stable beyond six days and is even able to reform unprocessed lignocellulose, such as wood and paper, under solar irradiation at room temperature, presenting an inexpensive route to drive aqueous proton reduction to H 2 through waste biomass oxidation.

2017 12

Purdue, EPFL team propose Hydricity concept for integrated co-production of H2 and electricity from solar thermal energy

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Researchers from Purdue University and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland are proposing a new integrated process involving the co-production of hydrogen and electricity from solar thermal energy—a concept they label “hydricity”. In all but thermal and chemical energy storage systems, solar energy is converted to electricity prior to conversion to the ultimate energy storage form.

UI, Argonne develop catalyst for more efficient solar-powered reduction of CO2 to CO for conversion to fuel

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C) Calculated solar-to-fuel efficiency (SFE) of photochemical process. Carbon Capture and Conversion (CCC) Catalysts Emissions Solar fuels

Researchers from MIT and Sun Catalytix develop an artificial leaf for solar water splitting to produce hydrogen and oxygen

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The traces are for solar cells of 7.7% Researchers led by MIT professor Daniel Nocera have produced an “artificial leaf”—a solar water-splitting cell producing hydrogen and oxygen that operates in near-neutral pH conditions, both with and without connecting wires.

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Energy Conversion Devices seeking to sell Ovonic Battery Company; focus on solar

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Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. ECD), a global manufacturer of thin-film flexible solar laminate products and systems for the building-integrated and commercial rooftop markets, has initiated a process to divest its Ovonic Battery Company (OBC) subsidiary. OBC invented NiMH rechargeable battery technology that is used globally in hybrid-electric vehicles, and in many consumer and commercial rechargeable batteries.

NREL researchers capture excess photon energy to produce solar fuels; higher efficiency water-splitting for H2

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showed for the first time how MEG allowed a solar cell to exceed 100% quantum efficiency by producing more electrons in the electrical current than the amount of photons entering the solar cell. Hydrogen Hydrogen Production Solar Solar fuels

Light over heat: UV-driven rhodium nanoparticles catalyze conversion of CO2 to methane

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Duke University researchers have engineered rhodium nanoparticles that can harness the energy in ultraviolet light and use it to catalyze the conversion of carbon dioxide to methane, a key building block for many types of fuels. Carbon Capture and Conversion (CCC) Catalysts Fuels Solar fuels

“Project Volt Gas Volt” proposes long-term financing plan to support widespread implementation of power-to-gas systems

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Project Volt Gas Volt is based on a long-term financing plan and the use of existing technologies for the large-scale conversion of surplus renewable electricity to methane, with subsequent reuse. Hydrogen Production Natural Gas Power Generation Solar Wind

2013 54

Joules solar fuels process can produce up to 15,000 gallons of renewable diesel/acre/year; 5-50X greater conversion efficiency than any biomass-dependent process

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Joule Unlimited’s direct, single-step, continuous process for the production of solar hydrocarbon fuels ( earlier post ) can produce the areal equivalent of up to 15,000 gallons of diesel per acre annually, according to a new open access paper by a Joule team published in the journal Photosynthesis Research. Sum of individual contributions and accumulated photon losses for two fuel processes and a theoretical maximum for energy conversion. Bio-hydrocarbons Solar

NREL shows graded catalytic-protective layer boosts longevity of high-efficiency photocathodes for renewable hydrogen

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Their works demonstrates the potential of utilizing a hybridized, heterogeneous surface layer as a cost-effective catalytic and protective interface for solar hydrogen production. However, the slow charge transport kinetics and/or large bandgaps that typically define these oxide semiconductors result in very low energy conversion efficiencies. Turner’s device held the record for the highest solar-to-hydrogen efficiency, until it was finally eclipsed in 2015.

NREL sets new world efficiency record for solar hydrogen production: 16.2%

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Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) recaptured the record for highest efficiency in solar hydrogen production via a photoelectrochemical (PEC) water-splitting process. Hydrogen Hydrogen Production Solar Solar fuels

Panasonic develops highly efficient artificial photosynthesis system with gallium nitride semiconductor for conversion of CO2 to formic acid

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Panasonic has developed an artificial photosynthesis system using a gallium nitride photoelectrode and a metal catalyst which uses sunlight to convert CO 2 mainly to formic acid (an important intermediate in chemical synthesis) at an efficiency (solar energy to chemical energy) of 0.2%—a

Berkeley Lab researchers advance hybrid bioinorganic approach to solar-to~chemicals conversion; 50% electrical-to-chemical, 10% solar-to-chemical efficiencies

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A team of researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have hit a new milestone in their development of a hybrid bioinorganic system for solar-to-chemical energy conversion. Biotech Fuels Natural Gas Solar Solar fuels

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