Solar-driven reforming of lignocellulose to H2 with a CdS/CdOx photocatalyst

We report the light-driven photoreforming of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin to H2 using semiconducting cadmium sulfide quantum dots in alkaline aqueous solution

David W. Wakerley; Moritz F. Kuehnel; Katherine L. Orchard; Khoa H. Ly; Timothy E. Rosser; Erwin Reisner

2017

Scholarcy highlights

  • As of 2016 the global consumption of fossil-derived oil has reached 1100 barrels per second and continues to climb annually. Low-cost fuel cannot be produced at this rate indefinitely, and securing and combusting crude oil is causing irreversible environmental damage.4Investigations into sustainable alternatives have identified H2 as a promising energy vector, which can be used directly in an emission-free fuel cell, or as a hydrogenating agent in the synthesis of renewable liquid fuel. To date H2 is almost exclusively produced through reforming/gasification of fossil-derived coal, gas or oil.7Biomass conversion is one of the most affordable routes to generate sustainable H2,8 but this process requires the demanding chemical transformation of lignocellulose
  • Lignocellulose is the main constituent of biomass and can be cultivated worldwide, even on unfertilised, marginal land
  • To test the efficacy of the CdS/CdOx photocatalyst for lignocellulose reforming, we initially focused on the oxidation of its major component, cellulose
  • The rate at which H2 is evolved from each substrate competes with the activity of purified monosaccharide reforming systems and is two orders of magnitude higher than previous reports of photocatalytic lignocellulose reforming
  • The high activity is assigned to the employed conditions that benefit both the photocatalyst and the substrate; the alkaline conditions provides an in situ pretreatment of the lignocellulose, dissolving hemicellulose, lignin, cellulose and other saccharides into solution and facilitate CdOx deposition on the CdS, creating a photocatalyst that is active and robust against corrosion
  • We have presented a route to valorise unprocessed lignocellulose to H2 at room temperature using visible light and CdS/CdOx quantum dots
  • Future development should focus on replacing the Cd with a more environmentally benign metal

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