Marisol Contreras is a chemical and biochemical engineering PhD student and graduate research assistant in the College of Engineering
Monday, September 25, 2023

CBE people

A University of Iowa graduate student has found a method for generating solar hydrogen that could make the cost of this renewable energy source more affordable than benchmark goals targeted by the Department of Energy, according to findings published this month in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy. 

Marisol Contreras, a chemical and biochemical engineering PhD student and graduate research assistant, found that solar hydrogen can be produced at a rate below the U.S. Department of Energy's goal of $1 per 1 kilogram of hydrogen. This advances the potential for more affordable and reliable clean energy solutions in the future. 

"Hydrogen from renewable energy costs about $5 per kilogram," according to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy. 

Using photoelectrochemical (PEC) hydrogen generation from waste brine as a viable method of sourcing hydrogen, Contreras discovered that costs could reach as low as $0.78 per kilogram. This is a breakthrough in the world of clean energy production and will aid in the mitigation of our current climate crisis. 

Contreras conducted the research with her advisors and co-authors, CBE professors Charles Stanier and Syed Mubeen. Mark Mba-Wright and Christina Wulf also are co-authors of the paper. 

The research paper is titled "Technoeconomic Analysis of Photoelectrochemical Hydrogen Production from Desalination Waste Brine Using Concentrated Solar Flux."  

Read the full publication here.