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Hydrogen Solar nabs $400k R&D grant

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A UK research company that uses solar power to generate hydrogen has won a $400,000 US Department of Energy award to test its technology in Las Vegas. The grant has been issued via The University of Nevada's Las Vegas Research Foundation.

Hydrogen Solar will work with the research foundation for the first year of a three year research and development programme for a hydrogen refilling station in the casino town. The award is potentially worth another $800,000 to the UK company, if it performs well.

Dr. David Auty, company CEO, described the award as the first step towards commercialising the technology. In August, the company announced that it had doubled its production efficiency, and was just two per cent short of the ten per cent needed for commercialisation.

In August, Dr. Auty explained how the Tandem Cell works:

There are two photocatalytic cells arranged in series. The front cell is coated with a nano-crystaline film which absorbs high energy (ultraviolet and blue) light.

The lower energy light (green and red wavelengths) passes through the front cell and into the second. Here, the light excites the electrons in this cell's coating which sets up an electrical potential.

Now there is a potential difference between the two cells allowing current to flow. This electricity splits the water molecules in an electrolyte, producing hydrogen.

The UK company will join a consortium of organisations, including Altair Nanotechnogies and the Las Vegas Valley Water District. The goal of this phase of the project is to further raise the efficiency of hydrogen production.

"We expect this to be a key technology as we move towards a future hydrogen economy," Dr. Auty concluded. ®

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