A droplet-based photocatalytic process for hydrogen production

© 2023 EPFL CC BY-SA

© 2023 EPFL CC BY-SA

School of Engineering professors Sophia Haussener and Esther Amstad have collaborated on a paper that describes renewable energy research supported by the faculty’s eSeed Initiative.

The study demonstrates, for the first time, the use of micro-droplets for the solar generation of hydrogen via photocatalytic water-splitting.

In the paper, a team of researchers from the laboratories of Professors Haussener (Laboratory of Renewable Energy Science and Engineering LRESE) and Amstad (Soft Materials Laboratory SMaL) used a microfluidic device to irradiate droplets composed of a water-based solution containing photocatalysts that are surrounded by oil. The high oxygen solubility of the oil allowed for oxygen to be trapped in the oil while releasing hydrogen, resulting in a membrane-free, drop-based photocatalytic water splitting process that yielded a 1.34-fold increase in the hydrogen and oxygen production rate compared to conventional suspensions.

The study was recently published in Cell Reports Physical Science.

The eSeed Initiative, launched in 2020, offers the opportunity to develop new projects between the laboratories of the School of Engineering through the award of a grant. The initiative aims to support the initial phase of new collaborative projects that are ambitious, high-risk and have a significant societal impact.


Savant et al., Single emulsion drops for photocatalytic water splitting as a membrane-free approach to product
separation, Cell Reports Physical Science (2023), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2023.101755