Solar Energy & Advanced Materials Research Group


New review article on photocatalytic methane transformation published in Nature Reviews Materials

1 March 2022

A new paper by Xiyi et al. just published in Nature Reviews Materials on ‘Methane transformation by photocatalysis’.

Methane hydrate and shale gas are predicted to have substantial reserves, far beyond the sum of other fossil fuels. Using methane instead of crude oil as a building block is, thus, a very attractive strategy for synthesizing valuable chemicals. Because methane is so inert, its direct conversion needs a high activation energy and typically requires harsh reaction conditions or strong oxidants. Photocatalysis, which employs photons operated under very mild conditions, is a promising technology to reduce the thermodynamic barrier in direct methane conversion and to avoid the common issues of overoxidation and catalyst deactivation. In this Review, we cover the development of photocatalysts and co-catalysts, including the use of inorganic materials and polymeric semiconductors, and explain how the use of batch or flow reaction systems affects the reaction kinetics and product selectivity. We also discuss efforts to understand the underlying reaction mechanisms from both a photophysical and a chemical perspective. Finally, we present our view of the challenges facing this field and suggest potential solutions.