A team of scientists from the Institute of Nano Science and Technology (INST) Mohali claimed to have developed a prototype reactor that operates under natural sunlight to produce around 6.1 liters of hydrogen in eight hours. The team used carbon nitrides as a catalyst for the purpose

Numerous researchers have attempted the process many times using complex metal oxide or nitride or sulfide-based heterogeneous systems, but it was arduous to reproduce massive quantities of hydrogen.

The inexpensive organic semiconductor in carbon nitrides can be prepared using cheaper precursors like urea and melamine at ease on a kilogram scale. When sunlight falls on this semiconductor, electrons, and holes are generated. The electrons reduce the protons to produce hydrogen, and holes are consumed by some chemical agents called sacrificial agents. If the holes are not consumed, then they will recombine with the electrons.

The reactor is about 1 m2. The photocatalyst is coated in panels, where water flow is maintained. Upon natural sunlight irradiation, hydrogen production occurs and is quantified through gas chromatography. The team is optimizing the hydrogen production with effective sunlight hours and the purity of the hydrogen to hyphenate with the fuel cells.

Hydrogen generated in this manner can generate electricity through fuel cells in remote tribal areas, powering small gadgets like hydrogen stoves. Eventually, it can power transformers and electric vehicles, which are long-term research goals under progress.

“The energy crisis and ever-threatening climate crisis urged us to work on this promising way of hydrogen production through photocatalytic water splitting. The stability and chemical flexibility of having different organic groups in carbon nitrides triggered us to work on these cost-effective organic semiconductor materials for sustainable hydrogen production,” said Kamalakannan Kailasam, lead researcher, INST.

A joint team of researchers from India and Wales is developing a new process to convert hazardous medical waste into clean hydrogen fuel. The process, called photoreforming, uses sunlight to kill viruses and simultaneously turn non-recyclable waste into clean hydrogen fuel.

In September 2020, a research team from Newcastle University in New South Wales, Australia, devised a system that uses solar power to conduct electrolysis on water harvested from air to create hydrogen, a low-cost zero-emission fuel.