Boosting the H2 Production Efficiency via Photocatalytic Organic Reforming: The Role of Additional Hole Scavenging System


The simultaneous photocatalytic H2 evolution with environmental remediation over semiconducting metal oxides is a fascinating process for sustainable fuel production. However, most of the previously reported photocatalytic reforming showed nonstoichiometric amounts of the evolved H2 when organic substrates were used. To explain the reasons for this phenomenon, a careful analysis of the products and intermediates in gas and aqueous phases upon the photocatalytic hydrogen evolution from oxalic acid using Pt/TiO2 was performed. A quadrupole mass spectrometer (QMS) was used for the continuous flow monitoring of the evolved gases, while high performance ion chromatography (HPIC), isotopic labeling, and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) were employed to understand the reactions in the solution. The entire consumption of oxalic acid led to a ~30% lower H2 amount than theoretically expected. Due to the contribution of the photoKolbe reaction mechanism, a tiny amount of formic acid was produced then disappeared shortly after the complete consumption of oxalic acid. Nevertheless, a much lower concentration of formic acid was generated compared to the nonstoichiometric difference between the formed H2 and the consumed oxalic acid. Isotopic labeling measurements showed that the evolved H2, HD, and/or D2 matched those of the solvent; however, using D2O decreased the reaction rate. Interestingly, the presence of KI as an additional hole scavenger with oxalic acid had a considerable impact on the reaction mechanism, and thus the hydrogen yield, as indicated by the QMS and the EPR measurements. The added KI promoted H2 evolution to reach the theoretically predictable amount and inhibited the formation of intermediates without affecting the oxalic acid degradation rate. The proposed mechanism, by which KI boosts the photocatalytic performance, is of great importance in enhancing the overall energy efficiency for hydrogen production via photocatalytic organic reforming.

Related subjects: Production & Supply Chain

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