The study, funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, has found that using a photocatalyst under simulated sunlight facilitates the decomposition of water, when loaded with an iridium catalyst, which in turn generates hydrogen.

Previous systems during the research had relied on electrons to drive the reactions, however, the successful process has allowed it to become ‘energy negative’.

Dr Sebastian Sprick, Principal Investigator at University of Strathclyde explained, “This study provides a way forward to optimise further as it is not sacrificial.

“The photocatalysts (polymers) are of huge interest as their properties can be tuned using synthetic approaches, allowing for simple and systematic optimisation of the structure in the future and to optimise activity further.”

Sprick continued, “This will also be important to produce hydrogen at scale to address climate change effectively.”

The researchers have also said that another potential advantage of this technique of hydrogen production is that ‘polymers are printable’, which would allow for cost-effective production techniques for scaling up.

If successful, the conversion process could act as a key catalyst in achieving the UK’s hydrogen ambitions, as laid out in the UK’s hydrogen strategy that aims to create a £13bn hydrogen economy by 2050.


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