Hydrogen from wastewater by photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical treatment

Adriana Rioja Cabanillas, David Valdesueiro, Pilar Fernandez-Ibanez, John Byrne

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)
154 Downloads (Pure)


In recent years, the intensification of human activities has led to an increase in waste production and energy demand. The treatment of pollutants contained in wastewater coupled to energy recovery is an attractive solution to simultaneously reduce environmental pollution and provide alternative energy sources. Hydrogen represents a clean energy carrier for the transition to a decarbonized society. Hydrogen can be generated by photosynthetic water splitting where oxygen and hydrogen are produced, and the process is driven by the light energy absorbed by the photocatalyst. Alternatively, hydrogen may be generated from hydrogenated pollutants in water through photocatalysis, and the overall reaction is thermodynamically more favourable than water splitting for hydrogen. This review is focused on recent developments in research surrounding photocatalytic and photoelectrochemical hydrogen production from pollutants that may be found in wastewater. The fundamentals of photocatalysis and photoelectrochemical cells are discussed, along with materials, and efficiency determination. Then the review focuses on hydrogen production linked to the oxidation of compounds found in wastewater. Some research has investigated hydrogen production from wastewater mixtures such as olive mill wastewater, juice production wastewater and waste activated sludge. This is an exciting area for research in photocatalysis and semiconductor photoelectrochemistry with real potential for scale up in niche applications.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012006
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Physics: Energy
Issue number1
Early online date18 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 31 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by IOP Publishing Ltd.

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Topical Review
  • hydrogen production
  • photocatalysis
  • photoelectrochemical cell
  • wastewater


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