Ramp Up Solar Hydrogen Generation with Sustainable Catalyst Loop

Technology #31780

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Schematic flow diagram showing an example of a photoreactor with passive mixing
Cunping Huang, Ph.D.
Nazim Muradov, Ph.D.
Ali Raissi, Ph.D.
Managed By
Raju Nagaiah
Research Associate 407.882.0593
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Nanocomposite for photocatalytic Hydrogen production and method for its preparation

US Patent 8,207,081 B1

New nanocomposite co-catalyst method can replace expensive platinum in sulfite solutions

Clean energy technology, developed by UCF researchers, offers higher quantum efficiency from a lower-cost process for photocatalytic hydrogen generation. This new nanocomposite co-catalyst used for increasing hydrogen generation is specifically developed for practical applications, easily prepared at room temperature with no activation required, and uses less-costly materials. Complementing renewable solar, the co-catalyst functions within a closed-loop, for a continuously regenerated electron-donor solution. This nanocomposite co-catalyst method was patented as having achieved the highest reported quantum efficiency (when using standard measurements for comparison to typical aqueous sulfite solutions).

Technical Details

The clean energy potential of photocatalytic hydrogen production has been limited by the high cost of a co-catalyst’s metal base and low quantum efficiency (QE). Now, the power of traditional platinum-based co-catalysts can be matched by a less-costly chromium oxide modified palladium metal colloid. The Pd Cr2O3 nanocomposite co-catalyst can increase the lifetime of charge separation, retarding electron recombination, to improve the overall photocatalytic activity of the water splitting. The new method reduces co-catalyst particle size, for increased surface area and reaction potential when loaded on cadmium sulfide (CdS) as a photo-harvesting semiconductor. Well-studied for its relatively narrow band gap, CdS enables electron transfer with lower energy requirements, making the most of the moderately intense, but more abundant visible spectrum of solar energy. Additionally, the method can increase particle loading efficiency to 100%. Completing the loop, an aqueous sulfite solution acts as the sacrificial electron donor. Using this new nanocomposite co-catalyst method over other sulfite-based photocatalytic hydrogen production methods, researchers have shown an over 50% increase in quantum efficiency.


  • Renewable source
  • Regenerable components
  • Lower cost


  • Hydrogen Fuels
  • Solar and Thermal
  • Fuel cells
  • Local electricity generation
  • Transportation fuel

See related technology: “Produce Hydrogen Fuel from Water Using Solar Energy” Technology Number: 31252