Researchers Develop New Method to Split Hydrogen from Water using COF


NUS chemical scientists have been successful in developing a carbon-conjugated covalent organic framework. This framework will allow the production of hydrogen gas from water. Visible light drives the catalytic process.

Hydrogen gas is increasingly becoming a key storage medium for the applications of sustainable energy. Scientists are now showing great interest in producing hydrogen gas from decomposed water using sunlight.

However, this conversion of hydrogen gas from water is not a spontaneous process. It needs a highly complex system that consists of a flow of free electrons. A light source produces the electrons. The free-flowing electrons then work like an electric current. Thus, it helps in splitting the water molecule.

Working for a Sustainable Future

This research is the work of Prof. Jiang Donglin and his associates from the Department of Chemistry, NUS. They claim to be successful in developing a new type of photocatalysts. The photocatalysts thus developed use carbon-conjugated covalent organic frameworks or simply COF. The research team has built a robust and organic material. In this material, they found that structurally carbon-based fundamental blocks show a topologically preset manner. Moreover, this molecular structure is quite unique and looks similar to two-dimensional network layers stacked over each other. As a result, this structure can thus harness the sunlight quite efficiently.

The researchers then tried to integrate platinum nanoparticles in the structure. This integration led to the formation of hydrogen gas at a steady rate of 1,360 μmol h-1g-1 for nearly five hours.

These newly engineered photocatalysts have numerous molecular mechanisms. These mechanisms allow them to generate hydrogen gas by efficiently splitting the water molecules.

The researchers are now working towards improving the scalability of the project. Specifically, they expect to develop a model that will help in the production of sustainable fuel at larger scales.

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