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Grant awarded for solar hydrogen cells

Posted by iTech - 2005-11-03

Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., in collaboration with the University of Nevada Las Vegas Research Foundation (UNLVRF), has received a $2.5 million Phase III grant award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the joint development of solar hydrogen generation cells and materials.

Altairnano (Reno, Nv.) will receive $750,000 for collaborative research and development efforts through its subcontractor agreement with UNLVRF beginning Oct. 1, 2005, and continuing through December 2006.

Altairnano's nanocrystalline metal oxide materials are key components to the overall effectiveness of the hybrid cell being developed under Phase II of the grant.

Under Phase III, Task IV of the new grant, Altairnano is charged with enhancing electrode materials to increase the photoelectrodes' current density, and developing a flexible conducting substrate material for scaling up the electrodes.

The solar cell under development is expected to provide hydrogen at a significantly lower cost than the photovoltaic/electrolyzer route being used today. Key to the technology is the performance of the photo-catalytic nano-crystalline films used to gather photons of incident light and convert them into electron whole pairs for directly splitting water.

"This grant award is timely as the rapid development of alternative energy sources is more necessary than ever for the U.S.," said Altair Nanotechnologies Chief Executive Officer and President, Alan J. Gotcher, in a statement.

"The consortium's two-pronged approach, which supports the National Hydrogen Fuel Initiative, is the joint development of a cell for direct hydrogen production from sunlight and water, along with related vehicle refilling stations,” he said. “We expect this approach to accelerate the commercialization of alternative energy vehicles and resource utilization throughout the state of Nevada and, in due course, the United States."

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