Hybrid Solar Powered High Performance Polymeric Materials for Photocatalytic Hydrogen Generation from Seawater and Industrial Effluent Water Streams in Qatar
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Global energy consumption is expected to increase by 2050 mainly due to the increase in population and improved standards of living, i.e., energy consumption per person. The development of efficient solar energy conversion to augment other renewable energy approaches is one of the grand challenges of todayâ s world. Over a period of hundreds of millions of years, nature has evolved to harvest solar energy and to convert the harvested energy to storable solar fuels through the process of photosynthesis. In nature, leaves essentially harvest solar energy and convert it into chemical energy that is stored within chemical bonds using water as the feedstock. In some senses, we will have to do better than nature by rapidly accelerating the production of solar fuels and making the process more efficient if we are to meet the worldâ s energy needs in a meaningful manner with reasonable land-area requirements and without adversely impacting food production. Our proposed research program takes these fundamental lessons to heart and addresses a topic of great scientific and practical relevance, i.e. the generation of hydrogen from water using the sun as an energy source. The goal of our research is to develop an entirely novel approach to an integrated process that successfully achieves sunlight-driven unassisted photo-splitting of water. Recently there have been advances in development of novel materials to achieved this; the water however has been from valuable water streams. In this project, we plan to use seawater and locally sourced industrial effluent streams, photo-splitting materials from various academic institutes around the world, along with concentrated solar power as feeds to our process in order to investigate and demonstrate application in dry and arid areas, with our industrial partners Shell-Qatar , which have kindly contributed in-cash and in-kind support total of $21,200. Our proposed collaborative effort brings together a tightly-knit group of investigators with the required interdisciplinary expertise to devise the proposed research. The teamâ s mission is to bring together the rational design of developing a reconfigurable hybrid platform wherein different components synergistically perform the various functions required to split water. The proposed research plan will be broken down into a series of interrelated and interwoven work packages, each tailored to a specific objective. In summary, we believe this project marks the turning point for research in Qatarâ s development in terms of economy, health and sustainable growth. This research will provide critical fundamental basis for the development of next-generation clean solar fuels, which is of paramount importance to the Qatar national 2030 vision and rest of the world.