LOUISVILLE, Ky. — University of Louisville renewable energy researcher Joshua Spurgeon has been funded $500,000 by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program for research and education over the next five years. Spurgeon is especially distinguished as a non-faculty recipient, one of the few ever awarded.
Spurgeon is theme leader for solar fuels at the Conn Center for Renewable Energy Research in the J.B. Speed School of Engineering. His research is on the production of hydrogen fuel from water with solar energy. This fuel is especially useful in transportation and utilities and has no greenhouse gas emissions.
“The current state-of-the-art for solar hydrogen generation is to use commercially mature photovoltaics and electrolyzers to split water,” said Spurgeon. “However, when combined this way, the cost is not economically competitive with hydrogen derived from natural gas. This NSF funding explores integration of all the systems into a single particle catalyst to make the overall system much cheaper. The particle design proposed in this work will also address inefficiencies in existing particulate-based water-splitting research.”
The research would provide the most viable route yet demonstrated for economically competitive solar hydrogen generation, said Mahendra Sunkara, director of Conn Center.
“This would enable low-cost solar energy storage and sustainable fuel production. Such a technology could revolutionize the energy industry and greatly expand the energy independence of the United States,” Sunkara said.