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Solar Energy & Advanced Materials Research Group

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Solar Driven Water Splitting

Solar Driven Water Splitting

Photocatalytic Water Splitting

It is indispensable to cope with the issues of the energy crisis and the green-house gas emission, as a result of global fossil fuels consumption, by seeking alternative, clean and efficient energy vectors. 

Photocatalytic water splitting is an artificial photosynthesis process which converts water to hydrogen gas in the presence of a photocatalyst and solar energy. Hydrogen (H2) is the best candidate for future energy supply because it is an ultimate clean energy with high energy density. Solar water splitting using a powdered photocatalyst is an attractive approach to produce H2 in a simple and inexpensive way. 

Therefore, our research focus on synthesizing both inorganic and polymer-based photocatalysts to achieve efficient and long-term H2 and O2 evolution from water under light irradiation. 

We have ten Xenon lamp (Newport USA, Perfectlight CN) used as the light source and we also have three GCs with TCD, FID & MS detector to measure the evolved gases. UV-Vis  (Agilent Cary 5000 UV-Vis-NIR), ATR-FTIR (IRAffinity-1S), Benchtop SEM/TEM (LEVM5) are available as well in the group for the characterization of as-synthesised photocatalysts. 

Projects 


  • 2D-architectures conjugated polymer photocatalysts for H2 and O2 gas production from water.
  • Mechanism insight on photocatalytic water splitting processes.

These projects are funded by the EPSRC (EP/N009533/1), (EP/R513143/1-2106239); Royal Society Newton Advanced Fellowship grant (NA170422) and the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2017-122).

Selected published review


Moniz SJ, Shevlin SA, Martin DJ, Guo ZX, Tang J. Visible-light driven heterojunction photocatalysts for water splitting-a critical review. Energy & Environmental Science. 2015, 8, 731-59.

Wang, Y., Vogel, A., Sachs, M., Sprick, R.S., Wilbraham, L., Moniz, S.J., Godin, R., Zwijnenburg, M.A., Durrant, J.R., Cooper, A.I. and Tang, J. Current understanding and challenges of solar-driven hydrogen generation using polymeric photocatalystsNature Energy, 2019, 4, 746–760

 

Photoelectrochemical (PEC) Water Splitting

The development of efficient methods for generating clean and sustainable energy is critically important in order to reduce harmful greenhouse gas emission from burning fossil fuels and to meet the rapid increase in global energy demands.

 

Background

  • We can make use of an abundant energy resource, solar energy,  whose irradiation upon the Earth's surface  (1.3 x105 TW) exceeds the current global human energy consumption (16 TW in 2010) by ~ 4 orders of magnitude.
  • Artificial photosynthesis (e.g. water splitting) is an attractive approach to meet current targets to inexpensively convert solar energy into a storable and transportable form of energy.
  • Splitting of water by direct sunlight into molecular oxygen and hydrogen using a photoelectrochemical (PEC) cell is one such promising method to produce chemical fuels however the current reported efficiencies are relatively moderate. 

Materials synthesis

  • We are interested in the design and construction of novel photoelectrode materials, electrocatalysts and device assemblies to achieve efficient photoelectrochemical water cleavage.
  • For thin film synthesis, we use our spin-coater (Laurell Technologies, USA), microwave (CEM UK) and aerosol assisted chemical vapour deposition (AACVD) in addition to electrodeposition, hydrothermal, and spray gun. 

Testing

  • We have two photoelectrochemical test stations equipped with solar simulators (Newport USA), potentiostats (Ivium) and mechanical light chopper.
  • Ivium Modulight for transient photovoltage measurement, IMPS and IMVS.
  • We can test evolved gases for Faradaic Efficiency using one of our GCs.

 

Water Splitting PEC

Projects 


  • 2016-2019: EPSRC CO2 conversion to fuels and chemicals
  • 2015-2016: Newton Research Fellowship to Dr Wenjun Luo (Nanjing Tech, China) who is researching electrocatalysts
  • 2013-2014: EPSRC/UCL MIIA project:  TiO2 protection layers on Cu2O photocathodes grown via ALD and CVD
  • 2010-2013: EPSRC Nanostructured catalysts for CO2 conversion

Selected published review


Jiang C, Moniz SJ, Wang A, Zhang T, Tang J. Photoelectrochemical devices for solar water splitting-materials and challengesChemical Society Reviews. 2017;46(15):4645-60.