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Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability

Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability

Welcome

Welcome to the website of the Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability (CEH) at the University of Warwick. The CEH is a cross-disciplinary research centre that draws upon expertise from departments across the university. It is a collaborative project which works with both the sciences and arts in order to consider life beyond, and on, this planet. Please explore our webpages, and feel free to contact us if you would like to get involved.

PG module - Habitability in the Universe

The Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability convenes a Postgraduate module, "Habitability in the Universe", which is run by the Institute for Advance Teaching and Learning. This module is open to all postgraduates, from all disciplines, and covers the subject of habitability from myriad perspectives. More details can be found on the module's home pageLink opens in a new window.

Photoelectrochemical Devices for Space Applications

We are thrilled to welcome Dr Katharina Brinkert from the Chemistry Department at the University of Warwick as the next speaker in the Centre for Exoplanets and Habitability seminar series. Dr Brinkert will be giving a talk titled 'Photoelectrochemical Devices for Space Applications'.

Abstract:
Human deep space exploration will rely on efficient and sustainable life support systems for the production of oxygen and other chemicals as well as the recycling of carbon dioxide. Photoelectrochemical (PEC) devices are investigated for the light-assisted production of hydrogen and carbon-based fuels from CO2 within the green energy transition on Earth [1]. Similarly to natural photosynthesis, they only require water and solar energy for the process and release oxygen as a by-product. Their monolithic, compact design comprising integrated semiconductor-electrocatalyst systems for light absorption, charge separation and catalysis as well as their sole reliance on solar energy makes them attractive for applications in space, where they can directly convert solar into chemical energy without requiring additional accessories [2,3]. This talk highlights our recent experiments with PEC devices in microgravity environments realised for 9.3 s at the Bremen Drop Tower and links results regarding device efficiencies to gas bubble management [4] and optoelectronic simulations [5]. We will discuss obstacles such as the limiting solar irradiance on Mars as well as the reduced gravitation on the Martian and lunar surface for the application of PEC and other electrochemical devices in these environments and point to practical, sustainable solutions how to overcome them.

[1] Fehr A. M. K. et al. (2023). "Integrated halide perovskite photoelectrochemical cells with solar-driven water-splitting efficiency of 20.8%", Nat. Commun. 14 (3797).
[2] Brinkert K. et al. (2018). Nat. Commun. 9 (2527).
[3] Brinkert K. and Mandin, P. (2022). "Fundamentals and future applications of electrochemical energy conversion in space", npj Microgravity 52
[4] Romero-Calvo Á. et al. (2022). "Magnetic phase separation in microgravity", Microgravity 8 (32)
[5] Ross B. et al. (2023). "Assessment of the technological viability of photoelectrochemical devices for oxygen and fuel production on Moon and Mars", Nat. Commun. 14, (3141)