Solar Electrolytic Cell





Introduction: Solar Electrolytic Cell

Hello, everyone! This is actually my first Instructable for the Chemical Reactions challenge, but I also want to help those looking for ways to use green energy or who are just looking for a fun project. Today I'll be showing you how to make a Solar Electrolytic Cell that splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. Good luck and enjoy!!

Step 1: Materials

Here's what you'll need for this project:

- Solar Cell (preferably 1.2V or higher; you can probably get one off Amazon for $7; the one I'm using is a 6V I got from Radioshack for $16)
- Cup or container (sorry that mine is so dark, it was all that I had)
- Wire
- Capacitor (optional; you can get one by harvesting a disposable camera)
- Soldering Iron & Solder (optional; makes things WAY easier though)
- Tape

Step 2: Fill It Up

First off, fill your cup or container with water. I used a tiny bottle so I could carry it around.

Step 3: Set the Capacitor (optional)

Wire up the capacitor by wrapping the wires or soldering them and place the wires in the water. Then, tape the capacitor to the cup or container. What's cool about the capacitor is that while it's in the water, even in total darkness, it prevents the hydrogen and oxygen from recombining into water by keeping the electricity released when the two recombine in place.

Step 4: Set the Solar Cell

Put the wires of the solar cell in the water and place the assembly in a well-lit area. Solar cells can sometimes conduct electricity using artificial light from light bulbs instead of sunlight. Soon the cell will produce an electric current and begin to split the water by means of a process called electrolysis. Electrolysis is a type of decomposition reaction caused by adding electricity. The electricity splits the water into hydrogen and oxygen, hydrogen forming on the negative wire, and oxygen forming on the positive.

Step 5: Watch the Bubbles Form!!

After a few minutes, bubbles should begin to form on the wires, hydrogen on the negative and oxygen on the positive. After about 20 minutes, it should be covered in bubbles. If you remove the assembly and hook wires up to the water, electricity should be released as the water recombines, but I was unable to show it because I don't have a multimeter. I might redo the experiment with a more advanced assembly. If anyone else has tried my experiment and did use a meter, please post it in the comments! I'm happy to have help in building on this project!



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    how can i store the liberated hydrogen separately in a container without oxygen

    Make a dividing wall in the jar with the plus on one side and the negative pole on the other side. A piece of plexiglass or piece of plastic cut to fit and glued in. Now you can insert small valves on each side to vent oxygen and hydrogen separately. You can flare (light the hydrogen side) to heat water to make steam and power a steam generator, if you want to come full circle that is...


    I like this I'ble it sounds grand. One question though if you will. Everyone else talks about salt or baking soda water mixture to be able to make electrolysis possible. I don't remember you saying anything about that so how is yours possible with plain water?

    Pure water (i.e., distilled) will not conduct electricity, so it will not work. However, plain tap water has some electrolytes in it to conduct the electricity and will work. I do not recommend using salt, because chlorine gas will be produced at the cathode rather than hydrogen. If you truly want hydrogen at the cathode and oxygen at the anode, then use epsom salts (magnesium sulfate). It's safe, cheap and very effective.

    To be fair it also produces hydrogen. The chlorine gas concentration isn't very high, but yes.

    A nice, scalable, concept. Do you have any applications for this yet? Also, i'm not an expert on electrolysis, but i'm fairly certain that for the water to recombine, you need to add energy (ie heat), or have a catalyst (as seen in hydrogen cars).

    *fun idea* adjust your water container to accept a balloon on the top so you can fill it with a perfect molar ratio of H and O. When the balloon fills up, tie the end, then tape on a piece of cannon fuse. Light. Release. Plug your ears. and only do that under competent adult supervision....

    i heard platnium wire works to make the elecricity. im making something like this but it will have a switch for input or output. or a valve that goes to a torch/hydrogen engine/genorator that runs on compressed air/hydrogen/any compressed gas.


    Platinum wire is expensive stuff but if you are able to do this please let me know, send me a link or something. Good luck to you.

    please reply me soon.i m in a hurry to make a hydrogen related project