Saturday, November 13, 2010
Algae firm claims PV-like efficiency for hydrogen production
OriginOil Extracts Oil from Algae Timelapse from OriginOil on Vimeo.
Algae technology developer OriginOil, Inc., has claimed it can now produce hydrogen from solar energy and algae with a similar energy conversion efficiency to solar photovoltaic panels.
The company based in Los Angeles said the “breakthrough” could lead to a renewable source of hydrogen suitable to scale up to commercial production levels.
It said a pared-down version of its “Hydrogen Harvester” system had achieved a solar energy conversion efficiency of about 12% continuously for several hours, on a partially clouded day.
Although this efficiency level does not compare favorably with the best solar photovoltaic technology on the market, OriginOil said it compared withavailable PV technology that can range in efficiency from 6% up to 20%.
Brian Goodall, OriginOil’s Chief Technology Officer, said: “Our experiments clearly demonstrate that this technology can generate renewable hydrogen at rates that matter to the global economy. These early rates compare well with those of the more mature solar cell industry, with the added benefit that the fuel, hydrogen, is readily storable. This is the first renewable source for today’s $39 billion hydrogen market.”
OriginOil cited the National Renewable Energy Laboratory as suggesting that efficient hydrogen production from photoelectrichemical systems was the “holy grail” of the hydrogen economy.
The company said in the field, its Hydrogen Harvester may achieve lower efficiencies than the 12% level, but added that counterbalancing efficiency losses in scaling up the technology, the algae could store up energy during the day and continue generating hydrogen through the night.
Algae could offer industrial sources of hydrogen without relying on petroleum sources, OriginOil believes, while also acting as a sequestration option to absorb carbon dioxide emissions. Read more here.