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Effective and Durable Co Single Atomic Cocatalysts for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Production

Zhao, Qi, Yao, Weifeng, Huang, Cunping, Wu, Qiang, Xu, Qunjie
ACS applied materials & interfaces 2017 v.9 no.49 pp. 42734-42741
cobalt, commercialization, cost effectiveness, durability, graphene, hydrogen production, irradiation, longevity, nanoparticles, photocatalysis, photocatalysts, production costs
This research reports for the first time that single cobalt atoms anchored in nitrogen-doped graphene (Co-NG) can serve as a highly effective and durable cocatalyst for visible light photocatalytic hydrogen production from water. Results show that, under identical conditions, the hydrogen production rate (1382 μmol/h) for 0.25 wt % Co-NG-loaded CdS photocatalyst (0.25 wt % Co-NG/CdS) is 3.42 times greater than that of nitrogen-doped graphene (NG) loaded CdS photocatalyst (NG/CdS) and about 1.3 times greater than the greatest hydrogen production rate (1077 μmol/h) for 1.5 wt % Pt nanoparticle loaded CdS photocatalyst (1.5 wt % Pt-NPs/CdS). At 420 nm irradiation, the quantum efficiency of the 0.25 wt % Co-NG/CdS photocatalyst is 50.5%, the highest efficiency among those literature-reported non-noble metal cocatalysts. The Co-NG/CdS nanocomposite-based photocatalyst also has an extended durability. No activity decline was detected during three cyclic photocatalytic life span tests. The very low cocatalyst loading, along with the facile preparation technology for this non-noble metal cocatalyst, will significantly reduce the hydrogen production costs and finally lead to the commercialization of the solar catalytic hydrogen production process. Based on experimental results, we conclude that Co-NG can successfully replace noble metal cocatalysts as a highly effective and durable cocatalyst for renewable solar hydrogen production. This finding will point to a new way for the development of highly effective, long life span, non-noble metal-based cocatalysts for renewable and cost-effective hydrogen production.