Why make oxygen when you could make useful chemicals
Solar-driven fuel synthesis is a sustainable and potentially economical technology for producing energy carriers such as “green” H2 fuel through water splitting. Photocatalytic water splitting processes are usually limited by the water oxidation half-reaction, which is kinetically and energetically demanding as well as requires often expensive catalysts and unsustainable sacrificial reagents. Our research aims to overcome these challenges by using alternative oxidation half-reactions to drive the breakdown of waste polymers or chemicals into valuable organic products. We utilise a variety of novel photocatalysts – including quantum dots and carbon-based nanomaterials – to (1) develop light-driven, high-yield organic transformations and (2) “photoreform” plastic- or biomass-derived waste into organics and fuel. Our aim is to enhance the sustainability and economic value of solar fuels by developing processes that simultaneously produce fuels and drive value-added organic transformations.