Onsite affordable hydrogen generation by laser

About Solution

Hydrogen is essential to tackle climate change and air pollution. Its advantages are the following six points:

1)       Clean Energy (No NOx, SOx)

2)       High energy density in terms of weight

3)       Quick refuel (e.g. within 5 minutes for a car)

4)       Stable operation at low temperature, such as in winter

5)       Storable for long term, large capacity

6)       Usable at off-grid area

Thus, hydrogen usages are suitable such as to electrify large/long-range mobility, higher frequency with little down time: e.g. truck, train, drone. Furthermore, energy storage/co-generation for long term and large capacity: e.g. buffer for renewables, office, data centre

As per Hydrogen Council and McKinsey, the world’s accumulated hydrogen market size by 2030 is 230 billion GBP.

However, even though there are a lot of advantages and potentials of hydrogen, why on earth it has not yet been expanded? One of the main reasons is it is still expensive. This is because the process from hydrogen production to its usage is complex, and there are two causes:

1)       Water electrolysis enables mass production of hydrogen; however, water pre-treatment is required, such as alkali, and it consumes a great deal of electricity.

2)       Demand centres are often far from the site of electrolysis factories. As hydrogen density is low, it has to be compressed, transported and then mostly decompressed at hydrogen stations.

We will realize onsite affordable hydrogen generation by our Ultra-Short Pulse Laser (USPL) with photocatalyst. USPL renders significant advantages when processing materials. Industrial USPL are already used for processing ceramics, semiconductors, precious metals, glass components, and are the major light source for laser eye surgery. We have shifted our R&D of the application of USPL to water splitting since 2013.

A USPL forces electrons within a bespoke catalyst to become free of their parent atom and move at very high speeds thereby gaining significant energies. These electrons interact with the electronic system of the catalyst liberating new electrons. These collisions will expand in number and form a domino effect, known as an Electron Avalanche Effect. By utilizing this effect, we will realize hydrogen generation at 90%+ efficiency by illuminating a water covered catalyst with UPSL light.

The UPSL laser is safer than electrolysis which uses high-voltage electricity; thus, onsite usage is not easy with conventional systems. Our system will be compact, and following suitable levels of R&D, could offer point or use hydrogen generation systems for industry, and domestic locations.

Thus, we will realize onsite, affordable split of H2O into H2 and O2. Compared to electrolysis, we can save up to 40% of input electricity consumption and, mainly by skipping water treatment and hydrogen transportation, we can save up to 70% of OPEX.

Currently, we have a prototype in Kyoto, Japan. We will scale our prototype plant, with the aim to commercialise the system within 2 years.



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