Bio-inspired Solar Light Driven Hydrogen Production

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Chemistry

Abstract

Energy is one of the most important issues of the twenty-first century, because our future supply is currently threatened by progressively decreasing fossil fuel reserves, political instability and environmental problems resulting in pollution and global warming. Renewable hydrogen, H2, is widely considered as a potential future fuel, but its cheap and efficient production is still a major unresolved practical issue. The sun provides our planet with a continuous flow of electromagnetic and carbon-free energy and it is the only energy source, which is capable of sustaining human kind's long-term energy demand. The aim of this EPSRC-funded project is the development of an efficient bio-inspired H2 production catalyst from abundant and inexpensive raw materials and its coupling to light-harvesting complexes to capture energy provided by the sun to power H2 production from water - the storage of solar energy in the chemical bond of H2.Selective and economical chemical catalysts are needed for the central chemical interconversion of energy, water and H2 if there is to be a real prospect of promoting H2 as a sustainable fuel. Commonly employed precious metal catalysts (e.g. platinum) cannot be used for H2 production in the post-fossil fuel era, because of (i) limited resources and high cost, (ii) poor reaction selectivity (e.g. energy is wasted on unwanted side-reactions), and (iii) poisoning (catalyst-killing) by trace amounts of common chemicals, e.g. carbon monoxide. Microbial life forms handle the challenging task of H2 production using bio-catalysts (hydrogenases) to drive the selective and reversible production of H2 from water at fast rates under the safe conditions of room temperature and neutral pH. The catalytic reaction centre (active site) of hydrogenases contains an iron or nickel-iron metal centre surrounded typically by cysteine, carbon monoxide and cyanide ligands. Thus, the active site of a hydrogenase is an interesting biological motif to mimic in order to build H2 production catalysts from abundant and inexpensive raw materials. This adventurous work on solar H2 production has the prospect of being a fundamental step towards large-scale water photolysis for a sustainable hydrogen economy. International (France, USA) and national (Manchester) academic as well as industrial (Evonik Industries) collaborators with expertise in enzyme biology, spectroscopy, solar cells, nanoparticles, and neutron diffraction will support this project under my guidance. In addition, this work on bio-inspired/biomimetic H2 production catalysts will also deal with wastewater treatment, the synthesis of fine chemicals, and might give us insight into how living organisms convert water into H2 on a molecular level, and reveal how the reverse reaction works: the generation of energy from H2, which is important for fuel cell applications.

Publications

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publication icon
Reisner E (2011) Solar Hydrogen Evolution with Hydrogenases: From Natural to Hybrid Systems in European Journal of Inorganic Chemistry

Related Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Award Value
EP/H00338X/1 01/09/2009 01/10/2010 £745,769
EP/H00338X/2 Transfer EP/H00338X/1 01/10/2010 28/02/2015 £747,111
 
Description We have developed the self-assembly of semiconductors and molecular catalysts for solar fuel synthesis. We described the sunlight driven production of H2 in water with a synthetic molecular catalyst immobilised on a semiconductor surface. This work exploits synergies between homogenous and heterogeneous catalysis. We have subsequently built up on this approach, improved the performance and understanding of semiconductor-catalyst hybrid systems and extended this concept to a range of different light absorbers and catalysts.

Selected publications:
Lakadamyali, F.; Reisner, E. Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 1695-1697.
Lakadamyali, F.; Kato, M.; Muresan, N. M.; Reisner, E. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2012, 51, 9381-9384.
Lakadamyali, F.; Reynal, A.; Kato, M.; Durrant, J. R.; Reisner, E. Chem. Eur. J., 2012 , 18, 15464-15475.
Lin, C.-Y.; Lai, Y.-H.; Mersch, D.; Reisner, E. Chem. Sci., 2012, 3, 3482-3487.
Muresan, N. M.; Willkomm, J.; Mersch, D.; Vaynzof, Y.; Reisner, E. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2012, 51, 12749-12753.
Reynal, A.; Lakadamyali, F.; Gross, M. A.; Reisner, E. Durrant, J. R. Energy Environ. Sci., 2013 , 6, 3291-3300.
Scherer, M.; Muresan, N. M.; Steiner, U.; Reisner, E. Chem. Commun., 2013, 49, 10453-10455.
Wombwell, C.; Reisner, E. Dalton Trans., 2014, 43, 4483-4493.
Gross, M. A.; Reynal, A.; Durrant, J. R.; Reisner, E. J. Am. Chem. Soc., 2014, 136, 356-366.
Caputo, C. A.; Gross, M. A.; Lau, V. W.; Cavazza, C.; Lotsch, B. V.; Reisner, E. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2014, in print.
Reynal, A.; Willkomm, J.; Muresan, N. M.; Lakadamyali, F.; Planells, M.; Reisner, E.; Durrant, J. R. Chem. Commun., 2014, 50, 12768-12771.

This grant was transferred to EP/H00338X/2. This project is still ongoing. A full summary will be provided upon completion of the project.
Exploitation Route Renewable fuel generation by utilizing sunlight to produce sustainable hydrogen; a potential future energy vector. The future of our society, economy and national security are inevitably linked to a sustainable energy supply. The vision of my CAF project is to tackle the pressing global Renewable Energy challenge of turning solar into chemical energy in the form of renewable H2; the key component for a hydrogen-based economy. My CAF project has the highly challenging aim to develop a novel prototype system for the photocatalytic reduction of aqueous protons to H2.
Sectors Energy,Environment

URL http://www-reisner.ch.cam.ac.uk
 
Description This research project has led to the development of a molecular Co Catalyst for H2 evolution, cermmercialised via Strem Chemicals
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Energy,Environment
 
Description Impact Acceleration Award (follow on from career accelertion fellowship)
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/H00338X/2 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2016 
End 05/2017
 
Title Molecular Co Catalyst for H2 evolution 
Description Photocatalytic H2 evolution from neutral water with a molecular cobalt catalyst on a dye-sensitised TiO2 nanoparticle 
Type Of Material Technology assay or reagent 
Year Produced 2015 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Molecular Co Catalyst for H2 evolution developed in my group (Lakadamyali & Reisner Chem. Commun., 2011, 47, 1695-1697) commercialised via Strem Chemicals Product number: 27-3015. CAS number: 1280199-86-1 
 
Description 2nd Japan-UK Symposium in Tokyo 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description 4th International Symposium on Solar Fuels and Solar Cells, Dalian, China 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact talk spared questions and discussion afterwards

TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Faraday Discussion meeting on 'Nest-Generation Materials for Energy Chemistry 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

tbc
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Solar Fuel 14 meeting in Montreal, Canada 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

TBC
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014