Titanium dioxide (TiO2) unlocks innovation in ‘green’ hydrogen technology

Decarbonisation of heavy-duty industries relies on innovative ways to produce ‘green’ and sustainable energy. Researchers have discovered a new method for producing ‘green’ hydrogen, made possible by TiO2.

The traditional method of producing hydrogen for fuel is based on electrolysis which splits water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen. However, industrial electrolysers are energy-intensive and require heavy investment.

To replace this method, Canadian and French researchers applied a natural mechanism known as ‘photocatalysis’. In a joint study by the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) Professor My Ali El Khakani and a team from L’Institut de chimie et procédés pour l’énergie, l’environnement et la santé (ICPEES), the Team developed specially engineered and structured electrodes that split water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen using the sun’s light.

TiO2 was key to unlocking this scientific advancement. TiO2 is a semiconductor known for being photosensitive to UV-light, but this accounts only for 5% of the sun’s irradiance.

The team of researchers worked on the atomic composition of TiO2 to extend its photosensitivity to visible light which could enable the production of electrodes able to absorb up to 50 percent of sunlight. This could make production of ‘green’ hydrogen without electrolysis much more efficient.

‘Green’ hydrogen is often called the fuel of the future. It is a building block to unlocking decarbonisation of industry and heavy-duty vehicles which is necessary to meet ambitious climate targets. This new technology may help boost the role of ‘green’ hydrogen in the energy mix of the future.