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Simulations of the irradiation and temperature dependence of the efficiency of tandem photoelectrochemical water-splitting systems

Haussener, Sophia and Hu, Shu and Xiang, Chengxiang and Weber, Adam Z. and Lewis, Nathan S. (2013) Simulations of the irradiation and temperature dependence of the efficiency of tandem photoelectrochemical water-splitting systems. Energy and Environmental Science, 6 (12). pp. 3605-3618. ISSN 1754-5692. doi:10.1039/c3ee41302k.

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The instantaneous efficiency of an operating photoelectrochemical solar-fuel-generator system is a complicated function of the tradeoffs between the light intensity and temperature-dependence of the photovoltage and photocurrent, as well as the losses associated with factors that include ohmic resistances, concentration overpotentials, kinetic overpotentials, and mass transport. These tradeoffs were evaluated quantitatively using an advanced photoelectrochemical device model comprised of an analytical device physics model for the semiconducting light absorbers in combination with a multi-physics device model that solved for the governing conservation equations in the various other parts of the system. The model was used to evaluate the variation in system efficiency due to hourly and seasonal variations in solar irradiation as well as due to variation in the isothermal system temperature. The system performance characteristics were also evaluated as a function of the band gaps of the dual-absorber tandem component and its properties, as well as the device dimensions and the electrolyte conductivity. The modeling indicated that the system efficiency varied significantly during the day and over a year, exhibiting local minima at midday and a global minimum at midyear when the solar irradiation is most intense. These variations can be reduced by a favorable choice of the system dimensions, by a reduction in the electrolyte ohmic resistances, and/or by utilization of very active electrocatalysts for the fuel-producing reactions. An increase in the system temperature decreased the annual average efficiency and led to less rapid ramp-up and ramp-down phases of the system, but reduced midday and midyear instantaneous efficiency variations. Careful choice of the system dimensions resulted in minimal change in the system efficiency in response to degradation in the quality of the light absorbing materials. The daily and annually averaged mass of hydrogen production for the optimized integrated system compared favorably to the daily and annually averaged mass of hydrogen that was produced by an optimized stand-alone tandem photovoltaic array connected electrically to a stand-alone electrolyzer system. The model can be used to predict the performance of the system, to optimize the design of solar-driven water splitting devices, and to guide the development of components of the devices as well as of the system as a whole.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription DOIArticle
Haussener, Sophia0000-0002-3044-1662
Hu, Shu0000-0002-5041-0169
Xiang, Chengxiang0000-0002-1698-6754
Weber, Adam Z.0000-0002-7749-1624
Lewis, Nathan S.0000-0001-5245-0538
Additional Information:© 2013 The Royal Society of Chemistry. Received 17th April 2013; Accepted 17th June 2013. First published online 17 Jun 2013. We acknowledge the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis, a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, supported through the Office of Science of the U.S. Department of Energy under Award Number DE-SC0004993. We thank Harry Atwater for fruitful discussions on temperature-dependent analysis of realistic systems.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Department of Energy (DOE)DE-SC0004993
Issue or Number:12
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20131224-102701042
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:43166
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:24 Dec 2013 18:59
Last Modified:10 Nov 2021 16:33

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