PhD Studentship in Photoelectrochemical Hydrogen Production at E-JUST
by Francis Njoka, Kenya (PPRE 2008/10)
Close to two years ago, I embarked on a new journey to pursue my PhD studies. This time round in Egypt, and in a relatively young research-oriented Egyptian university with Japanese style of training. Egypt-Japan University of Science and Technology (E-JUST) is located some 70km SW of Egypt’s coastal capital, Alexandria. The three-year PhD programme is split into two phases where students spend the first two years of their study in Egypt and part of their final year in one of the partnering Japanese university to conclude their research work before returning back for thesis defense and graduation. I enrolled in Energy Resources Engineering Department and so far have made considerable progress in my research work. My research topic is on Water splitting for hydrogen production using solar energy.
Photoelectrochemical hydrogen production presents a very unique hydrogen economy which is direct, devoid of pollution and short in terms of conversion pathways. Only a single conversion device is needed to convert solar energy to chemical energy which is storable, versatile and a precursor to an electric economy. The technology basically uses two of the most abundant and clean resources on the universe; the sun and water with only oxygen as a by-product. Research in photoelectrochemical hydrogen production has been pursued for more than four decades and yet the achieved efficiencies are very low. Majority of research work to-date focuses on semiconductor (photoelectrode) material developments yet little has been done on system components integration. There is hence some urgent need to investigate other system design parameters and evaluate their influence on the performance of the entire system. The present research work seeks to numerically explore light absorption, charge transport and electrochemical kinetics to elucidate on the effects of key material configurations and their influence on reactor performance. The understanding of these aspects will facilitate the design and construction of a practical reactor for further experimental interrogation to achieve the objectives of the study.