The generation of renewable energy through photocatalysis is an attractive option to utilize the abundantly available solar radiation for a sustainable future. Photocatalysis refers to charge-carrier, i.e. electron and hole, mediated reactions occurring on a semiconductor surface in presence of ultraviolet or visible light radiation. Photocatalysis is a well established advanced oxidation technique for the decontamination of toxic organic pollutants to CO2 and H2O. However, the generation of energy in the form of hydrogen, hydrocarbon fuels and electricity via photocatalysis is an upcoming field with great many technical challenges towards practical implementation. This review will describe the fundamental reaction mechanism of (i) photocatalytic water splitting, (ii) photocatalytic H2 generation in presence of different sacrificial agents, (iii) H2 and electricity generation in a photofuel cell, (iv) photocatalytic reduction of CO2 to hydrocarbons and useful chemicals, and (v) photocatalytic water-gas shift reaction. A historic and recent perspective of the above conversion techniques, especially with regard to the development of TiO2-based and non-TiO2 materials is provided. The activity of different materials for the above reactions based on quantifiers like reaction rate, quantum yield and incident-photon-to-current efficiency is compared, and key design considerations of the “best” photocatalyst or photoelectrode is outlined. An overall assessment of the research area indicates that the presently achieved quantum efficiencies for the above reactions are rather moderate in the visible region, and the goal is to develop a catalyst that absorbs visible radiation, provides good charge-carrier separation, and exhibits high stability for long periods of usage.
Keywords: CO2 reduction, Electricity generation, Hydrogen generation, Photocatalysis, Photoelectrocatalysis, Photofuel cell, TiO2, Watergas
shift reaction, Water splitting
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