Integrated Photoelectrochemical Solar Energy Conversion and Redox Flow Battery Devices

Wednesday, 4 October 2017: 16:50
National Harbor 6 (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
W. Li (University of Wisconsin-Madison), H. C. Fu (KING ABDULLAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY), L. Li (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), M. Cabán-Acevedo (University of Wisconsin-Madison), J. H. He (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology), and S. Jin (Department of Chemistry, UW-Madison)
The practical utilization of solar energy demands not only efficient energy conversion but also inexpensive large scale energy storage. Building on mature regenerative photoelectrochemical solar cells and emerging electrochemical redox flow batteries (RFBs), more efficient, scalable, compact and cost-effective hybrid energy conversion and storage devices could be realized. Here we present an integrated PEC solar energy conversion and electrochemical storage device by integrating regenerative photoelectrochemical solar cells in aqueous electrolytes with RFBs using the same pair of organic redox couples. In such an integrated PEC-RFB device, solar energy is absorbed by semiconductor electrodes and photoexcited caries are collected at the semiconductor-liquid electrolyte interface and used to convert the redox couples in the RFB to fully charge up the battery (i.e. store the solar energy into the redox couples). When electricity is needed, the charged up redox couples will be discharged on the surface of carbon felt electrodes as one would do in the discharge of a RFB to generate the electricity. We demonstrated that such an integrated PEC-RFB device can be charged under solar illumination without external electric bias and deliver a high discharge capacity comparable with state of the art RFBs over many cycles. This integrated device can utilize solar energy efficiently -- an overall direct solar-to-output electricity efficiency (SOEE) of 1.7% have been achieved without significant performance optimization.