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Makes use of photocatalyst materials, usually as single particles or nanostructured sheets, which uses sunlight to split water to produce hydrogen and oxygen gas.


Technology

What is it?

Makes use of photocatalyst materials, usually as single particles or nanostructured sheets, which uses sunlight to split water to produce hydrogen and oxygen gas. These types of systems do not have any external wiring or additional components.

Why is it important?

No membrane or electrical input is required to produce hydrogen.

Characteristics

  • Inputs: Water (in some cases could be low purity), sunlight
  • By-products: Oxygen
  • Operating temperature: Ambient

Benefits

  • Technically very simple and therefore inexpensive to operate
  • No membrane required (depending on system configuration)
  • Low capital cost compared to thermochemical and photobiological methods
  • Flexible reactor size
  • In some cases, could be used for simultaneous treatment of wastewater

Limitations

  • Need additional effort to separate hydrogen from oxygen

RD&D priorities

  • Develop photocatalyst materials
  • Develop co-catalyst materials (cheaper alternatives)
  • Develop photocatalysts for one-step excitation, Z-scheme, and two-step excitation
  • Improve surface engineering approaches for cocatalyst loading, surface morphology control, surface modification, and surface phase junction strategies
  • Improve system design for large scale hydrogen production including reactor design and particle immobilisation schemes

Known active organisations

  • The Australian National University
  • CSIRO
  • Curtin University
  • Flinders University
  • The Future Fuels Cooperative Research Centre
  • Griffith University
  • Queensland University of Technology
  • The University of Adelaide
  • The University of Melbourne
  • The University of Newcastle
  • The University of New South Wales
  • The University of Queensland
  • Western Sydney University

Other opportunities like this

  • Sunlight irradiates one or more photovoltaic components, which can generate electricity.

  • Methanol is conventionally synthesised at large scale from synthesis gas (or syngas), a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide typically at an H₂/CO ratio of 1.8 ~ 2.2, derived through steam reforming of natural gas or steam gasification of coal.

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