Solar-Powered Hydrogen Production

UCF researchers Ali Raissi, Nan Qin, Nazim Muradov stand alongside their solar-powered hydrogen production device, which is behind a transparent, yellow curtain in laboratory.

UCF researchers have been conducting solar thermochemical hydrogen production since 2001. Solar-driven thermochemical water splitting cycles (TCWSCs) provide an energy-efficient and environmentally attractive method for generating hydrogen. Solar-powered TCWSCs utilize both thermal (i.e. high temperature heat) and light (i.e. quantum energy) components of the solar resource, thereby boosting the overall solar-to-hydrogen energy conversion efficiency compared to those with heat-only input.

UCF’s patented solar-powered TCWSC, a novel hybrid photo-thermochemical sulfur-ammonia (S-A) cycle, is a modification of the well-known Bowman-Westinghouse (B-W) hybrid cycle wherein the electrochemical step is replaced by a photocatalytic process. The main reaction (unique to UCF’s S-A cycle) is the light-induced photocatalytic production of hydrogen and ammonium sulfate from an aqueous ammonium sulfite solution. Ammonium sulfate product is processed to generate oxygen and recover ammonia and SO2. Ammonia and sulfur dioxide are then recycled and reacted with water to regenerate ammonium sulfite.

Years of Research: 2001 – 2017

Sponsored by: U.S. Department of Energy; NASA Glen Research Center; Qatar’s National Priority Research Program through the Texas A&M University

Selected Publications
  1. Solar hybrid photo-thermochemical sulfur-ammonia water-splitting cycle: Photocatalytic hydrogen production stage
  2. Hybrid Photo-thermal Sulfur-Ammonia Water Splitting Cycle: Thermodynamic Analysis of the Thermochemical Steps
  3. Particle Model Investigation for the Thermochemical Steps of the Sulfur– Ammonia Water Splitting Cycle
  4. Thermal decomposition of (NH4)2SO4in presence of Mn3O4
  5. A Novel Pd-Cr2O3/CdS Photocatalyst for Solar Hydrogen Production Using a Regenerable Sacrificial Donor
  6. Development of Efficient Photo-reactors for Solar Hydrogen Production
  7. Hydrogen Production via Photolytic Oxidation of Aqueous Sodium Sulfite Solutions
US Patents
  • 8,691,068        Solar metal sulfate-ammonia based thermochemical water splitting cycle for hydrogen production, Huang, C.; T-Raissi, A.; Muradov, N.Z. (April 8, 2014)
  • 8,207,081        Nanocomposite for photocatalytic hydrogen production and method for its preparation, Huang, C.; Yao, W.; Muradov, N.Z.; T-Raissi, A. (June 26, 2012)
  • 2016 Best Paper Award, at the International Conference on H2 Production in Hangzhou, China
  • 2004 Innovative Technology Award, 15th World Hydrogen Energy Conf., Yokohama, Japan