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Designed Conducting Polymer Composites That Facilitate Long-Lived, Light-Driven Oxygen and Hydrogen Evolution from Water in a Photoelectrochemical Concentration Cell (PECC)

1
Intelligent Polymer Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
2
ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW 2522, Australia
3
Department of Basic Education, University of Mosul, Mosul 41002, Iraq
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Compos. Sci. 2019, 3(4), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/jcs3040108
Received: 1 November 2019 / Revised: 8 December 2019 / Accepted: 11 December 2019 / Published: 14 December 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Advances in Conductive Polymer Composites)
Light-driven water-splitting to generate hydrogen and oxygen from water is typically carried out in an electrochemical cell with an external voltage greater than 1.23 V applied between the electrodes. In this work, we examined the use of a concentration/chemical bias as a means of facilitating water-splitting under light illumination without the need for such an externally applied voltage. Such a concentration bias was created by employing a pH differential in the liquid electrolytes within the O2-generating anode half-cell and the H2-generating cathode half-cell. A novel, stretchable, highly ion-conductive polyacrylamide CsCl hydrogel was developed to connect the two half-cells. The key feature of the cell was the half-cell electrodes, which comprised thin-film conducting polymer composites that were previously designed to maximize light-driven catalysis at moderate pH. Upon being connected with the hydrogel in the presence of light irradiation (0.25 sun intensity on each electrode), the half-cells spontaneously produced hydrogen and oxygen from water, without the need for an externally applied voltage bias greater than 1.23 V. The cell operated reliably and efficiently for 14 h of continuous testing. These results demonstrate the fundamental feasibility of light-driven water-splitting in a photoelectrochemical concentration cell when employing electrodes that operate efficiently at moderate pH, even with low levels of light illumination. The designed conducting polymer composites proved ideal in that regard. View Full-Text
Keywords: water-splitting; electrolysis; concentration cell; photoelectrochemical cell; ion bridge; hydrogel; cesium chloride water-splitting; electrolysis; concentration cell; photoelectrochemical cell; ion bridge; hydrogel; cesium chloride
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Alsultan, M.; Zainulabdeen, K.; Wagner, P.; Swiegers, G.F.; Warren, H. Designed Conducting Polymer Composites That Facilitate Long-Lived, Light-Driven Oxygen and Hydrogen Evolution from Water in a Photoelectrochemical Concentration Cell (PECC). J. Compos. Sci. 2019, 3, 108.

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