Solar Fuel Testing Facility

Exciting progress is being made in the development of new materials and device concepts for the photoelectrochemical production of solar fuels. Efficiencies are starting to approach the threshold for scale-up to small prototypes. However, also the lifetime (stability) of an aspired solar-to-fuel device strongly determine the cost efficiency of this technique. Unfortunately the evaluation of both the performance and stability of the materials over longer periods of time (>100 hrs) under well defined conditions is beyond the capabilities of most research groups.

The solar fuel testing facility (SFTF) offers both internal and external users from academia and industry a unique possibility to carry out long-term performance and stability measurements on larger-area (>10 cm2) photoelectrodes and devices under realistic and comparable conditions. Initial efforts will focus on water splitting, and later extended to e.g. CO2 reduction. By offering a flexible testing platform with a wide range of conditions, we enable our users to study and understand the influence of crucial parameters on the long-term efficiency of their devices.

Both the (photo)electrochemical characteristics (current, voltage) as well as chemical analysis of the reaction products will be carried out on-line and in a (semi-)continuous fashion in order to get a complete picture of the device under working conditions. After full commissioning of the lab (expected by the end of 2018) three measuring stations for 5x5cm2 and one for 10x10cm2 devices will be available for long term measurements. All positions are equipped with a AAA-class LED-solar-simulators, potentiostat, mass-flow-controllers, electrolyte pumps, pH and temperature sensors, video imaging system and a connection to a mass-spectrometer system, which detects and analyses  gaseous products generated by the device. The electrolyte is analyzed by an ICP-OES system in order to identify possible corrosion products. Furthermore, an additional Xe-lamp based AAA-solar-simulator for 10x10cm2 samples and devices is available which provides an excellent match to the AM1.5G simulated solar spectrum. This solar simulator is used to determine the solar to fuel efficiency in the beginning and the end of a long-term experiment.

Scetch of the SFTF

Scetch of the SFTF

Illumination AM1.5G AAA class (350nm-1100nm)
Electrode Device area up to 10x10cm2
Electrolyte aqueous pH0-pH14
Cell design no special limitations, but horizontal illumination is required. Users can bring their own devices or use standard cells from the SFTF-lab.