Real-World Modeling of PEC Devices


Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)

Capability Expert

Adam Weber


Computational Tools and Modeling
System Integration

Node Readiness Category

2: Photoelectrochemical (PEC)


LBNL has developed a multiphysics modeling methodology and framework for analyzing real-world deployment of next-generation renewable energy-conversion technologies. We use this framework to simulate optically concentrating PECs from a system temperature and solar-to-hydrogen efficiency standpoint. This enables the simulation of hourly device performance over the course of an entire year for any location uses weather data from that locations. Such an approach and findings address the lack of knowledge in the field about the typical and extreme temperatures that PEC components will be subjected to in deployment, and whether or not active thermal management will be necessary among other issues. The methodology also provides a framework to link coupled multiphysics simulations at the component and device level with complex light and related phenomena and the use of meteorological and actual environmental data. The methodology also allows one to bridge science-focused multiphysics with engineering and technoeconomic and life-cycle analysis.

Capability Bounds‎

For computational efficiency, uses some simplified electrochemical and semiconductor and light physics for concentration.

Unique Aspects‎

Unique perspective that brings to light engineering challenges and new science needs for deployment of this and similar renewable-energy technologies. Such knowledge is critical since there is limited data or experimental studies, and thus modeling can fill the gap and provide guidance to the science and technology development at earlier stages than previously possible.


Available although will require some tuning and supervision for specific systems.


This capability provides evaluation and impact of real-world operating conditions on PEC device performance.


Overall program workflow.

Results showing annual efficiencies and temperature issues for PEC hydrogen generation with 10X concentration at four locations.


John C. Stevens and Adam Z. Weber, 'A computational study of optically concentrating, solar-fuels generators from annual thermal- and fuel-production efficiency perspectives,' Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 163 (7), H475-H484 (2016). doi: 10.1149/2.0121607jes.