Development of Solar Sensitive Thin Film for Water Splitting and Water Heating using Solar Concentrator

Dholam, Rupali S. (2010) Development of Solar Sensitive Thin Film for Water Splitting and Water Heating using Solar Concentrator. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


Photocatalytic water splitting using solar energy could contribute to the solution of environmental and energy issues related to the hydrogen production. Key research area in this field is the development of photo-catalyst able to provide high energy conversion efficiency. TiO2 has been mostly preferred material as the photo-electrode due to many advantages, mainly related to the cost factor and stability. We have studied on hydrogen production by water splitting in photo-electrochemical cells prepared by using photoanodes made by two different kinds of TiO2: one deposited by RF sputtering and the other one by sol-gel method. Depositions were performed on electrical conducting ITO whose electrical properties plays vital role to reduce the photon energy loss. The photoanodes have been characterised by several techniques to infer on their optical and compositional properties. The observed differences in hydrogen production have been attributed to the peculiarities in absorption properties of the two TiO2 films that in the case of sputter-deposited films are more prone to absorb radiation also because of the produced defects during the deposition process. Metals like Cr and Fe were doped in TiO2 by RF magnetron sputtering and sol-gel methods to increase the efficiency of hydrogen production by water splitting by sensitizing the doped-TiO2 in visible light spectrum. The doping method, dopant concentration, charge transfer from metal dopants to TiO2, and type of dopants used for modification of TiO2 were investigated for their ability to enhance photocatalytic activity. UV-Visible spectra show that the sputter-metaldoped- TiO2 films are much more efficient than the chemically-prepared samples to induce red shift of the absorption edge for absorbing visible light. In addition, we proved that dopant atoms must be located, at low concentration, near the ITO-TiO2 interface to avoid the formation of recombination centers for photo-generated electron-hole pairs. H2 production rate is higher with Fe-doped TiO2 (15.5 μmole/h) than with Cr-doped TiO2 (5.3 μmole/h) because Fe ions trap both electrons and holes thus avoiding recombination. On the other hand, Cr can only trap one type of charge carrier. To increase the light conversion efficiency and reduce the recombination processes of Cr-doped TiO2, a multilayer structure of ITO/Cr-doped-TiO2 (9 at.%) was developed. When the multilayer films were exposed to visible light, we observed that the photocurrent increases as function of the number of bilayers by reaching the maximum with 6-bilayers of ITO/Crdoped-TiO2. The enhanced photocurrent is attributed to: 1) higher absorption of visible light by Cr-doped-TiO2, 2) number of space-charge layers in form of ITO/TiO2 interfaces in multilayer films, and 3) generation of photoelectrons just in/or near to the spacecharge layer by decreasing the Cr-doped-TiO2 layer thickness. The superior photocatalytic efficiency of the 6-bilayers film implies higher hydrogen production rate through water splitting: we obtained indeed 24.4 μmole/h of H2 production rate, a value about two times higher than that of pure TiO2 (12.5 μmole/h). Similar experiment we performed by doing TiO2 with vanadium metal. With 6-ilayers vanadium doped TiO2 film Shows higher hydrogen production rate of about 31.2 μmole/h. This rate is higher than that of CR doped and pure TiO2. A constant H2 generation rate is obtained for long periods of time by all the investigated TiO2 films because of the separate evolution of H2 and O2 gas, thus eliminating the back-reaction effect. Even Ar+ or N+ ion implantation of energy 30 keV was adopted to vary the energy band gap of TiO2 film in order to absorb visible light.The original anatase phase was not changed by implantation. Increase in full visible absorption range was observed for both kinds of ion implanted-TiO2 films which further increases with the ion fluencies, while N+ ion implantation also causes the shift of the absorption edge from UV to visible light range. N+ implanted TiO2 showed narrowing of band gap from 3.2 eV for untreated anatase TiO2 to 2.78 eV for maximum implantation dose. The Ar+ and N+ implantation creates oxygen vacancies related defect energy level in the band gap. In case of N+ implantation, nitrogen also substitutionally replaces the oxygen atoms thus forming an energy level just above the valence band which further interacts with O 2p states resulting in the narrowing of band gap. The black solar absorber material develop over the copper target to absorb concentrated solar radiation and supply heat to the surrounding water. A black copper oxide layer was synthesized over copper substrate by using chemical oxidation treatment. We varied several treatment parameters and optimized the best condition to obtain a black textured layer which has the properties to absorb total solar radiation. The untreated polished copper showed 50 to 60 % reflectance (R) (incidence angle of 15o) and this value decreases to almost zero for whole wavelength range after formation of black copper oxide. The percentage absorption decreases by negligible amount as the angle of incidence increases. The SEM images of the copper oxide layer at high magnification showed a nano-petal like structure which causes the surface texture effect for higher absorption where surface irregularities such as grooves and pores with dimensions similar to the wavelength of the incident radiation simply increase the solar absorptance by multiple reflections. Long time thermal stability and corrosion resistance in hot water was also studied for the copper oxide film. The results revealed that the copper oxide was very stable and showed no changes in optical properties after the test. For the same water heating system a quartz window is used through which the solar radiation is transmitted on the copper target. Thus to acquire high power conversion efficiency it is necessary for quartz window to transmit the entire solar radiation incident on it without much lost due to the reflection on the surface. In general quartz window is able to transmit 90-91 % of the solar radiation while 1-2 % is absorbed and 7-8 % is reflected from the surface. Thus to have nearly complete transmittance it is necessary to cover the surface of quartz window with anti-reflecting (AR) coating: this was the part of my work. We developed single-layer and multi-layer AR coating for single specific wavelength and broad-band wavelength range respectively. Low reflective index material like MgF2 is deposited by e-beam technique to obtain single-layer AR coating. While Al2O3 and ZrO2 layers deposited, by RF-magnetron sputtering, on top of MgF2 forms multi-layer AR coating. The combination of MgF2/ZrO2/Al2O3/MgF2 deposited on both side of quartz showed excellent results with reflectance value of around 0.8% in broad spectral range. The heat exchanger efficiency obtained after using these developed black copper oxide absorber material and AR coating is around 83 % which seems to be significantly higher than the other commercially available water heating system. Concentrating solar power (CSP) systems are utilized to convert sunlight to thermal electric power by using solar absorber. However, the solar absorber are operated at elevated temperature (700-800 oC) and should be spectrally selective to act as perfect absorbers over the solar spectrum (high solar absorptance (α)) and perfect reflectors in the thermal infrared (IR) (low thermal emittance (ε)). Cermet composite solar absorber shows such selective properties at high temperatures. In the present work, we developed Al-AlN based multilayer cermet films by RF magnetron sputtering. We choose combination of Ni/AlxN(1-x)/AlN layers as a solar absorber due to its stability at elevated temperature and high corrosion resistance. In this combination, Ni layer, deposited near to substrate, act as the IR light reflector to provide high thermal emittance. While AlxN(1-x) layer act as an absorber layer for UV-Vis spectrum of solar radiation and transparent AlN layer on top functions as AR coating. To improve absorptance, 3 or 4 layers of AlxN(1-x) film with grading of metal content was synthesized by varying N2 flow during deposition. The optical measurement for these multilayer selective absorber films showed high solar absorptance of 0.92-0.96 and low thermal emittance of around 0.1-0.07. To test the stability of our multilayer coating at high temperature, we annealed these samples at 700 oC with holding time of 2 hrs in air, low vacuum and high vacuum. We observed a slight decrease in solar absorptance value (0.90) for the annealed samples but the results showed that overall performance was not hindered by heat treatment thus proving the thermal stability of our multilayer cermet coating.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:Physics
Area 02 - Scienze fisiche > FIS/03 FISICA DELLA MATERIA
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