Researchers at Rice University (USA) have created a simple device that, using sunlight, can split water into components and produce hydrogen, which can then be used as fuel. The system is very similar to an "artificial leaf", it is quite self-sufficient and relatively cheap to manufacture.
The “artificial leaf” consists of a perovskite solar cell to which electrodes from a catalyst are connected. When light hits a solar cell, it starts generating electricity, which activates a catalyst that splits water into oxygen and hydrogen. During the reaction, gas bubbles form on the surface of the water, which can be collected for later use.
The efficiency of converting sunlight into hydrogen is about 6, 7%, which is a relatively high indicator for systems of this type. However, according to researchers, its most useful property is how self-sufficient the new attitude is.
The photocell and electrodes are packed in a single block inside a polymer housing that protects against damage and water. The electrodes are located outside where the water splits.
A big plus of this system is that it can be placed in water under direct sunlight for a long time and turned on to produce hydrogen as needed.
According to scientists, the perovskite solar cell has also been modified so that it does not require expensive components (such as platinum), which have been replaced with cheap carbon. All this should reduce costs and increase the competitiveness of the "artificial leaf" in the batch production process.