Development of Visible Light Active Photocatalytic Nanomaterials for Enhancing Clean Hydrogen Production and Water Purification

The pressing need to find viable alternatives to fossil fuels combined with the growing requirement for environmentally friendly industrial processes motivates a dramatic paradigm shift from fossil fuels (which also require carbon capture and sequestration) to reliable, clean, and efficient fuels. Hydrogen has the potential to meet the requirements as a clean non-fossil fuel in the future if it can be produced using the world’s most abundant sources, the sun and water. The driving forces for the energy transition towards hydrogen are many, but three major reasons are growing energy demand, oil shortage in near future and threat of climate change. Our planet is covered with an abundant, clean source of hydrogen – water. The planet is also bathed in an abundant, clean source of energy – sunlight. The vision and focus of our proposal is to use the energy of the sun to crack water into hydrogen using nanotechnology. If such a system can be made inexpensive, efficient, and stable, it would provide a practical method of producing high-purity hydrogen. Currently this is not achievable and we propose to develop new photocatalytic nanomaterials and methods required to reach this goal.

This project targets a transformative technology addressing all the existing challenges by using a co-catalyst, a sacrificial reagent to suppress the oxygen evolution, and chemically modified doped and/or dye-sensitized titanium nanoparticles as new photocatalytic materials for the energy sector with the goal for clean and cheap energy from abundant sunlight and water. This will enable a technology for the energy sector, which could dramatically decrease the energy required for hydrogen production compared to traditional energy intensive methods. Solving these issues will not only just result in a more commercially viable product for hydrogen production, but also for air/water purification, wastewater treatment and other photocatalyst applications.

Faculty Supervisor:






Engineering - chemical / biological



Western University



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