Sustainable Hydrogen Generation Using Novel Heterogeneous Nanocomposites

Green chemical pathways are indeed desirable in alternative fuel generation. Solar, wind and hydrogen (H2)-derived methods afford a means of capitalizing on environmentally advantageous resources that limit GHG emissions during power-generation. Of these, hydrogen (H2) gas is an ideal energy source given its recognized large energy capacity and absence of GHG emissions. However, extensive development of H2 fuel cells has been constrained by traditional methods of formation (i.e., water electrolysis). Here, significant energy costs contradict the clear environmental benefit of H2 fuel design. Thus, alternative means of H2 generation are paramount towards exploiting the benefits of this clean energy resource.

The popularity of light-driven routes has garnered considerable attention given its flexibility and independence from the electricity grid and natural gas availability. Moreover, the design/implementation of heterogenous light-activated materials, or photocatalysts, introduces recoverable and reusable materials and limits additional environmental and chemical waste.

Metal organic frameworks (MOF), specifically those comprised of zirconium metal centers, and metal oxide semiconductors (MO) both possess characteristics valuable for photocatalytic H2 fuel design. In particular, MOF/MO hybrids have shown promise in hydrogen evolution reactions (HER),2, 3 given their light response, well ordered and porous crystalline matrix, high surface area and chemical tuneability. However, the requirement for UV light and the rapid decay of the light-activated state – required for H2 formation from alcohol solvents, limits HER.

Nanospecies (NP) decoration of MOF/MO using gold, copper, platinum, or nickel may act as an “antenna” for visible light, extending the light response to lower energy activation and extend the light activated state.

Herein, the long-term goal of this work will be the design of a three component NS/MO/MOF catalyst that facilitate HER visible light, allowing local hydrogen generation in remote areas with limited grid capabilities.


Geniece Hallet-Tapley at St. Francis Xavier University

December 1, 2023 – March 31, 2025