Modeling practical performance limits of photoelectrochemical water splitting based on the current state of materials research

Linsey C. Seitz, Zhebo Chen, Arnold J. Forman, Blaise A. Pinaud, Jesse D. Benck, Thomas F. Jaramillo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Scopus citations

Abstract

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is a means to store solar energy in the form of hydrogen. Knowledge of practical limits for this process can help researchers assess their technology and guide future directions. We develop a model to quantify loss mechanisms in PEC water splitting based on the current state of materials research and calculate maximum solar-to-hydrogen (STH) conversion efficiencies along with associated optimal absorber band gaps. Various absorber configurations are modeled considering the major loss mechanisms in PEC devices. Quantitative sensitivity analyses for each loss mechanism and each absorber configuration show a profound impact of both on the resulting STH efficiencies, which can reach upwards of 25 % for the highest performance materials in a dual stacked configuration. Higher efficiencies could be reached as improved materials are developed. The results of the modeling also identify and quantify approaches that can improve system performance when working with imperfect materials. How efficient can it be? Based on the current state of materials research, we model various losses in photoelectrochemical water splitting, examining devices configured in several different ways, to determine their overall solar-to-hydrogen efficiencies. The effects of different absorber configurations and various losses are quantitatively analyzed, leading to the introduction of potential engineering solutions to overcome limitations of water-splitting systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1372-1385
Number of pages14
JournalChemSusChem
Volume7
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2014

Keywords

  • electrochemistry
  • energy conversion
  • photochemistry
  • semiconductors
  • water splitting

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Energy(all)

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