Solar Reactors & Electrochemical Cells

Topic #3: Membraneless (Photo)electrochemical cells and reactors

(left) Schematic top view of membraneless electrolyzer based on angled mesh flow through electrodes. (right) Photograph of 3D printed membraneless electrolyzer with window on top for in situ imaging by high-speed video. More details can be found in publication [2].
As engineers, we are not only intrigued by the fundamental science involved in our research, but also seek to apply that knowledge to the invention, design, optimization, and scale-up of real-world devices and systems.  In this spirit, an important part of research in our lab involves the development of (photo)electrochemical and PV-electrolysis devices, reactors, and systems. Evaluation of the performance of integrated devices and systems can be invaluable for gaining an understanding of the complex interplay that often exists between components and is crucial for optimization and scale-up processes. Of particular interest in our group are novel membraneless PEC and electrochemical reactors, which offer exciting opportunities to decrease capital costs through their simplicity. Two key aspects of of our device-level research are (i) Additive manufacturing (3D-printing), which has proven to be invaluable for accelerating the development of electrochemical and photoelectrochemical test cells and reactors, and (ii.) Incorporation of windows and electrochemical sensors into these devices. The former features enables in situ studies of the fluid dynamics and bubble dynamics within these devices using high speed video.


  1. J.T. Davis, D.V. Esposito, “Limiting Photocurrent Analysis of a Wide Channel Photoelectrochemical Flow Reactor”,  Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.,  vol. 50, 8, 11 pp, 2017. (Special Issue on Solar Fuels). Available for download here.
  2. G.D. O’Neil, C. Christian, D.E. Brown, D.V. Esposito, “Hydrogen Production with a Simple and Scalable Membraneless Electrolyzer”. Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 162, F3012-F3019, 2016. (Open Access):
  3. D.V. Esposito*, R.V Forest*, Y.  Chang, N. Gaillard, B.E. McCandless, S. Hou, K.H. Lee, R.W. Birkmire, and J.G. Chen, “Photoelectrochemical Reforming of Glucose for Hydrogen Production using a WO3-based Tandem Cell Device.” Energy & Environmental Science, vol. 5, 9091-9099, 2012. *shared first-authorship.
  4. D.V. Esposito, O.Y. Goue, K.D. Dobson, B.E. McCandless, J.G. Chen, and R.W. Birkmire, “A New Photoelectrochemical Test Cell and Its Use for a Combined Two- and Three-Electrode Approach to Cell Testing.”  Review of Scientific Instruments, vol. 80, 125107, 2009.