A photo electro chemical cell (PEC) was invented to help in electrolysing water to make O2 and H2 molecules. the energy for electrolysing water molecules in turn is obtained from visible UV light. In a way a photo electro chemical cell (PEC) is a special type of solar cell.
Now in a turning point for this technology, researchers at the University of Texas, Arlington have devise a way to store the electricity generated by a PEC cell for extended periods of time. This new findings will give a new boost to our clean energy drive around the world.
The PEC cell as stated was not the ideal choice to store electricity as the electrons which were produced from photons used to quickly loose energy and used to get back to a lower energy state. Hence, harvested electrical energy was put to use right away in producing hydrogen molecules from water molecules. Now, researchers Fuqiang Liu and colleagues have created a PEC cell that includes a specially designed photoelectrode (the component that converts incoming photons into electrons). Unlike previous designs, their hybrid tungsten tri oxide/titanium dioxide (WO3/TiO2) photo electrode can store electrons effectively for long periods of time.
“We have demonstrated simultaneously reversible storage of both solar energy and electrons in the cell,” says lead author of the paper Dong Liu. “Release of the stored electrons under dark conditions continues solar energy storage, thus allowing for continuous storage around the clock.”The team is now working on building a larger prototype, with the hope that this technology could be used to better integrate photo electro chemical cells within the smart grid.