When 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM Feb 12, 2010
Where 1670 CSE
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Thermal–photocatalytic generation of H2 over nanopowder catalysts in H2O


John Smith, University of Michigan

It is becoming increasingly important to find renewable energy sources. Solar radiation is by far the largest renewable energy resource, but it is available for only a part of each day. This makes it desirable to convert solar energy to a fuel. A relatively strong thermal activation process has been found for generating hydrogen fuel from sunlight via photocatalytic water splitting. A nanoparticle CuAlO2 catalyst is employed. Measurements indicate an order of magnitude increase in hydrogen generation rates for a temperature rise of 50°C, suggesting an approach to practical efficiencies. Generation rates are stable over time.  This process, which makes use of ultraviolet, visible, and infrared components of the solar spectrum, is analyzed via first principles computations.  The measured thermal activation barrier is discussed in terms of computed desorption energies.

*Some of this work is reported in J.R. Smith, T.H. Van Steenkiste, and X.-G. Wang, Phys. Rev. B 79, 041403(R) (2009).