Nanomaterials Design and Fabrication for Solar Energy Conversion and Photocatalysis Applications
Date: 15 April 2019
University of Exeter
Doctor of Philosophy in Renewable Energy
The use of nanomaterials in solar energy conversion and photocatalytic degradation of environmental pollutants represents an opportunity to improve the performance, density, and ease of transportation in renewable resources. Among renewables resources, solar energy is considered as the largest exploitable resource, supplying the earth ...
The use of nanomaterials in solar energy conversion and photocatalytic degradation of environmental pollutants represents an opportunity to improve the performance, density, and ease of transportation in renewable resources. Among renewables resources, solar energy is considered as the largest exploitable resource, supplying the earth with energy in 1 hour equivalent to mankind’s total energy consumption in an entire year. Collecting and storing sunlight in chemical bonds (solar fuel) using photoelectrochemical water splitting (PEC) is a promising, a clean and sustainable way for hydrogen generation. Moreover, the photocatalytic process has great potential and high efficiency for removal of organic pollutants from water under direct natural sunlight irradiation. The aim of this project is to design, fabricate, characterize and performance enhancement of novel semiconductor materials that could efficiently harvest and store solar energy by splitting water to produce hydrogen and to perform dye degradation as well. The lack of suitable p-type photocathode has been considered and the focus of this work was to design and develop the new stable visible light absorbing photocathode materials. In pursuit of the stable photocathode, in this work YFeO3, which is a cheap and abundant material, with promising properties, and so was chosen as the photocathode in the development of the PEC cell. YFeO3 thin films were produced by spray pyrolysis technique onto fluorine-doped tin oxide film on glass. Results showed that YFeO3 photoelectrode has achieved a photocurrent of 0.6 mA cm-2 at 0.5 V vs. RHE and maximum of 0.41 μmol/cm2 of hydrogen has obtained as well. Similarly, to look for suitable and cheap materials for environmental remediation, Bi2WO6 thin films were produced by spray pyrolysis and aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition techniques. Results showed that the nanostructure and texture of the films can be controlled by controlling the deposition parameters. Moreover, photocatalytic degradation of rhodamine B (RhB) and methylene blue (MB) dyes have been successfully achieved. Finally, α-Fe2O3 films were fabricated as counter electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells in order to compete for platinum counter electrode. These films were fabricated using aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition and spray pyrolysis techniques. The results showed that the performance of the samples prepared by aerosol-assisted chemical vapour deposition as a counter electrodes is higher than of the samples prepared by spray pyrolysis.
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