Our researchers are looking for a cleaner, greener way to generate hydrogen for renewable energy applications. Since 2008, researchers in the CINS Advanced Deposition Lab have been working to refine methods of water splitting to generate hydrogen as an alternative energy source.
With the “green” movement on the rise, the concept of hydrogen generation is gaining in popularity. This technology shows potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and efforts are being made to increase efficiency and affordability, which would make the technology more widely accessible.
An article titled “Enhanced photocurrent response of titania-nanotube heterojunction devices capped with titanium disilicide,” detailing research done at CINS was published in the July 2013 issue of Energy Technology. According to Research Assistant Professor Dr. Ganesh Kannarpady, the article demonstrates a surface modification technique of titania nanotubes that significantly enhances their ability to absorb sunlight. This enhancement results in an increase in the production of hydrogen by water splitting.
CINS hydrogen generation research was initially funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, and the project has continued with support from the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and Arkansas Science and Technology Authority.
Other institutions working in a similar arena include Harvard, MIT, and Sandia National Lab. Dr. Kannarpady notes that the CINS research is set apart by its very specific surface modification technique. This titanium disilicide modification is highly scalable, making it more industrially commercializable.
What’s next for CINS in terms of hydrogen generation?
“We have already made two major breakthroughs, including this one, in surface modification of titanium dioxide and tungsten trioxide nanostructures to enhance the efficiency of hydrogen generation,” Dr. Kannarpady said. “We are currently working on integrating these two breakthroughs to make a ‘sandwich’ device that can further improve the efficiency of hydrogen generation via water splitting and to bring the cost of production even lower.”
CINS researchers collaborating on this project were Dr. Kannarpady, Dr. Hidetaka Ishihara, Justin Woo, and Dr. Alexandru Biris. The article was also featured on the journal’s cover with a graphical depiction of sunlight and water being converted to green energy.