Panasonic Corp. said it has developed a catalyst that uses sunlight efficiently to extract hydrogen from water, a technology that could lead to energy self-sufficiency in homes powered by fuel cells.
The company said it tested photocatalysts consisting of niobium nitride that can absorb 57 percent of sunlight, a rate far more efficient than the titanium oxide photocatalysts used today that absorb only ultraviolet rays, which constitute 4 percent of sunlight.
Using this catalyst, Panasonic plans to develop products, such as panels similar to solar cells, for installation on rooftops.
These products in turn will create the hydrogen that fuel cells use to generate electricity.
“Commercial application will be 2020 at the earliest,” Panasonic Managing Director Yoshiyuki Miyabe said. “We want to achieve this as early as possible.”
Panasonic has already started selling home-use fuel cells to generate electricity from hydrogen.