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To solve resource, energy, and environmental issues, development of sustainable clean energy system is strongly required. In recent years, hydrogen has been paid much attention to as a clean energy. Solar hydrogen production by water splitting using a photocatalyst as artificial photosynthesis is a promising method to solve these issues. Efficient utilization of visible light comprised of solar light is essential for practical use. Three strategies, i.e., doping, control of valence band, and formation of solid solution are often utilized as the useful methods to develop visible light responsive photocatalysts. This mini-review introduces the recent work on visible-light-driven photocatalysts developed by substitution with metal cations of those strategies.

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Photocatalysts have attracted great research interest owing to their excellent properties and potential for simultaneously addressing challenges related to energy needs and environmental pollution. Photocatalytic particles need to be in contact with their respective media to exhibit efficient photocatalytic performances. However, it is difficult to separate nanometer-sized photocatalytic materials from reaction media later, which may lead to secondary pollution and a poor recycling performance. Hydrogel photocatalysts with a three-dimensional (3D) network structures are promising support materials for photocatalysts based on features such as high specific surface areas and adsorption capacities and good environmental compatibility. In this review, hydrogel photocatalysts are classified into two different categories depending on their elemental composition and recent progresses in the methods for preparing hydrogel photocatalysts are summarized. Moreover, current applications of hydrogel photocatalysts in energy conversion and environmental remediation are reviewed. Furthermore, a comprehensive outlook and highlight future challenges in the development of hydrogel photocatalysts are presented.

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Photoelectrochemical (PEC) water splitting is regarded as a promising way for solar hydrogen production, while the fast development of photovoltaic-electrolysis (PV-EC) has pushed PEC research into an embarrassed situation. In this paper, a comparison of PEC and PV-EC in terms of efficiency, cost, and stability is conducted and briefly discussed. It is suggested that the PEC should target on high solar-to-hydrogen efficiency based on cheap semiconductors in order to maintain its role in the technological race of sustainable hydrogen production.

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