Google Play icon

Testing artificial photosynthesis

Share
Posted June 12, 2013
In this microfluidic test-bed, a chemically inert wall (red) separates anode from cathode and the channels in which O2 and H2 are generated by splitting water. Protons (H+) are conducted from one channel to the other via a membrane cap (Nafion®) that also prevents the intermixing of the O2 and H2 product streams. Credit: Miguel Modestino, Berkeley Lab and JCAP

In this microfluidic test-bed, a chemically inert wall (red) separates anode from cathode and the channels in which O2 and H2 are generated by splitting water. Protons (H+) are conducted from one channel to the other via a membrane cap (Nafion®) that also prevents the intermixing of the O2 and H2 product streams. Credit: Miguel Modestino, Berkeley Lab and JCAP

With the daily mean concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide having reached 400 parts-per-million for the first time in human history, the need for carbon-neutral alternatives to fossil fuel energy has never been more compelling. With enough energy in one hour’s worth of global sunlight to meet all human needs for a year, solar technologies are an ideal solution. However, a major challenge is to develop efficient ways to convert solar energy into electrochemical energy on a massive-scale. A key to meeting this challenge may lie in the ability to test such energy conversion schemes on the micro-scale.

Berkeley Lab researchers, working at the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis(JCAP), have developed the first fully integrated microfluidic test-bed for evaluating and optimizing solar-driven electrochemical energy conversion systems. This test-bed system has already been used to study schemes for photovoltaic electrolysis of water, and can be readily adapted to study proposed artificial photosynthesis and fuel cell technologies.

“We’ve demonstrated a microfluidic electrolyzer for water splitting in which all functional components can be easily exchanged and tailored for optimization,” says Joel Ager, a staff scientist with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. “This allows us to test on a small scale strategies that can be applied to large scale systems.”

Ager is one of two corresponding authors of a paper in the journal Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics (PCCP) titled “Integrated microfluidic test-bed for energy conversion devices.” Rachel Segalman, also with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division is the other corresponding author. Other co-authors are Miguel Modestino, Camilo Diaz-Botia, Sophia Haussener and Rafael Gomez-Sjoberg.

Read more at: Phys.org

Featured news from related categories:

Technology Org App
Google Play icon
85,387 science & technology articles

Most Popular Articles

  1. New treatment may reverse celiac disease (October 22, 2019)
  2. "Helical Engine" Proposed by NASA Engineer could Reach 99% the Speed of Light. But could it, really? (October 17, 2019)
  3. New Class of Painkillers Offers all the Benefits of Opioids, Minus the Side Effects and Addictiveness (October 16, 2019)
  4. The World's Energy Storage Powerhouse (November 1, 2019)
  5. Plastic waste may be headed for the microwave (October 18, 2019)

Follow us

Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Tumblr   RSS   Newsletter via Email