This company press release says the breakthrough could prove to be a highly scalable and renewable source of hydrogen that can come from algae production:
To achieve this breakthrough, OriginOil researchers built a pared-down version of the company’s Hydrogen Harvester™ and tested many process variables and materials. They achieved hydrogen energy corresponding to a solar energy conversion efficiency of about 12 percent continuously for several hours on a partially clouded day. The sole energy input was the Sun. By comparison, commercial solar cells achieve conversion efficiencies between six and 20 percent.
Brian Goodall, OriginOil’s CTO, 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 officials admit the in-the-field efficiency might be less than the 12 percent achieved in the research system. However, since algae stores up energy during the day, it will continue to generate hydrogen throughout the night. Also, algae production facilities using a Hydrogen Harvester could be self-sufficient for refining.