Researchers Study Ability of GaN-Sb Alloy for Hydrogen Production

A study has been conducted by the Kentucky and Louisville university researchers to determine the ability of a novel alloy to produce hydrogen from solar energy.

When immersed in water and exposed to sunlight, the PEC alloy splits water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.

The research team includes Michael Sheetz and Madhu Menon, Professors at the University of Kentucky’s (UK) Center for Computational Sciences and Professor Mahendra Sunkara and a graduate student at the University of Louisville’s (UofL) Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research.

An alloy formulated using a 2% substitution of antimony (Sb) in gallium nitride (GaN) was used in the study. The team has demonstrated that this novel alloy has the perfect electrical properties, which enable sunlight to split the water molecule into oxygen and hydrogen. This process is referred to as photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting. The chemical bond between oxygen and hydrogen is broken down by immersing the GaN-Sb alloy into water and then exposing it to sunlight. The separated hydrogen can later be collected. The GaN-Sb alloy is a simple and easy-to-produce material that acts as a catalyst in the PEC process.

For many decades, Hydrogen was considered as a key component in the conversion to cleaner energy sources. It has a broad range of applications in industry and science. Hydrogen can be utilized in fuel cells to generate electricity and used in internal-combustion engines to power vehicles. It can also be burned to generate heat.

At present, UK and UofL scientists are focusing on the production of GaN-Sb alloy and analyzing its capability to convert solar light energy to hydrogen.

Source: http://www.uky.edu/

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