A New Silicon-Based Photocatalyst Enables Efficient Hydrogen Production Using Solar Energy

By September 25, 2023 3   min read  (414 words)

September 25, 2023 |

fotocatalizador a base de Si

The world is witnessing a monumental leap in green hydrogen production technology thanks to a team of researchers led by Professor Jungki Ryu from the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST and Professor Soojin Park from the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH).

A more sustainable catalyst

The focus of this discovery lies in a silicon-based hybrid catalyst that effectively converts solar energy into hydrogen and high-value compounds. In addition to being a powerful tool, this new catalyst is environmentally friendly and non-toxic. In contrast to previous catalysts that either did not respond to sunlight or raised toxicological concerns, this silicon-based version exhibits astonishing light absorption properties, optimizing its efficiency in harnessing solar energy.

Furthermore, it is noteworthy that these materials, besides being non-toxic, do not release harmful chemicals during their production process.

Overcoming previous obstacles

In earlier research, simultaneously producing hydrogen and high-value compounds was a challenge due to the lack of suitable catalysts. Often, the use of toxic catalysts under strong base conditions led to contamination issues. Additionally, the formation of oxide layers on traditional silicon catalysts during reactions reduced hydrogen production efficiency over time.

The solution to these problems came through the team’s research innovation: they developed a hybrid catalyst by uniformly coating nickel-doped graphene quantum dots on 2 to 3 nm-thick silicon sheets. This modification resulted in a significant increase in hydrogen production efficiency, reaching impressive rates of 14.2 mmol gcat−1 h−1, which translates to an approximately 28-fold improvement over traditional methods.

 New possibilities in energy applications

An additional feature of this catalyst is its ability to produce high-value compounds using biomass instead of water. This biomass, an organic substance derived from biological sources, when interacting with the catalyst, not only produces hydrogen but also other valuable compounds. Furthermore, it was found that the catalyst retains 98% of its original form, ensuring long-term stability.

Professor Ryu‘s words summarize the importance of this breakthrough: “Previous research was limited to catalysts that absorbed ultraviolet rays or involved toxic catalysts. Our silicon-based catalyst represents a significant advancement.”

Meanwhile, Professor Park highlighted the potential of this surface modification technique, suggesting that it could be applied to various other types of catalysts, opening up a world of possibilities in the energy field.

For more information, please refer to: Yuri Choi et al, Solar Biomass Reforming and Hydrogen Production with Earth‐Abundant Si‐Based Photocatalysts, Advanced Materials (2023). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202301576


SOURCE: EcoInventos



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