Combinatorial design and high-throughput screening of potential solar hydrogen photocatalysts

Project summary

Australia is strategically committed to a 26 - 28% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below the 2005 level by 2030, as emphasised by the Paris Agreement signed in 2016. Because of this, clean hydrogen technologies are sparking renewed interests in Australia. Australia receives a vast amount of sunlight (58 million petajoules) per year, which is 10,000 times more than the local energy demand. One approach to make use of this abundant solar energy is direct solar-to-hydrogen conversion based on surface photocatalytic reactions. Attempts to improve solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency are made via tedious screening of photocatalytic materials as guided by intuitive wisdom involving laborious experimentations. As we are now faced with the urgency in tackling energy security and global warming, there are real needs to accelerate the overall rate of photocatalysts discovery.

The project aims to explore a combinatorial flame synthesis approach for a wide array of photocatalytic/co-catalytic composites, complemented by high-throughput assessment of photoactivity for solar hydrogen production in parallel to robust material characterisation. Additional deliverables involve insights on quantitative structure-activity relationships from a library of photocatalysts with extensive understanding of materials and reaction chemistry.