European Patent Issued to Nanoptek for Invention that Converts Sunlight into Hydrogen Fuel

Nanoptek hydrogen fuel
Image courtesy of Nanoptek.

The European Patent Office issued European Patent No. 2289108 to Nanoptek Corp., doing business as LightFuel Co., for their “Bandgap-shifted Semiconductor Surface and Apparatus.”

The invention allows sunlight to directly produce hydrogen fuel from water. It can also use sunlight to assist hydrogen production through electrolysis of water. In that mode, only half to a third of the electrical power required by state-of-the-art alkaline or PEM electrolysis, respectively, is used. So the cost to produce hydrogen fuel is lower, and there is less or no co-produced carbon. And because the hydrogen can be produced anywhere that there is sunlight and water, it is easily distributed and scaled.

The Company expects that their LightFuel™ Hydrogen will be used in Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles (FCEVs). In addition, LightFuel™ Generators will be used to convert intermittent electricity from renewable sources into the on-demand electricity that is required by utilities and consumers, by producing storable hydrogen for stationary fuel cells.

“The European Market is very important to us, and not only because of its enormous size,” said John Guerra, President and CEO of LightFuel. “Europe’s far-sighted and sustained support for renewable energy, particularly welcoming to hydrogen and FCEVs, is remarkably strong in both the public and private sectors; governments and industry are cooperating to bring forth new technologies that will mitigate global warming.”

Nanoptek has won competitive grants from N.A.S.A. and the U.S. Dept. of Energy for development of their semiconductor photoanodes, in which nano-structures induce high local stress to engineer the bandgap of the semiconductor for more efficient production of hydrogen from water with sunlight.

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This post was prepared by Solar Thermal Magazine staff.

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