Room temperature stable COx-free H2 production from methanol with magnesium oxide nanophotocatalysts

Zhengqing Liu, Zongyou Yin*, Casandra Cox, Michel Bosman, Xiaofeng Qian, Na Li, Hongyang Zhao, Yaping Du, Ju Li, Daniel G. Nocera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Citations (Scopus)


Methanol, which contains 12.6 weight percent hydrogen, is a good hydrogen storage medium because it is a liquid at room temperature. However, by releasing the hydrogen, undesirable CO and/or CO2 byproducts are formed during catalytic fuel reforming. We show that alkaline earth metal oxides, in our case MgO nanocrystals, exhibit stable photocatalytic activity for CO/CO2-free H2 production from liquid methanol at room temperature. The performance of MgO nanocrystals toward methanol dehydrogenation increases with time and approaches ~320 mmol g−1 hour−1 after a 2-day photocatalytic reaction. The COx-free H2 production is attributed to methanol photodecomposition to formaldehyde, photocatalyzed by surface electronic states of unique monodispersed, porous MgO nanocrystals, which were synthesized with a novel facile colloidal chemical strategy. An oxygen plasma treatment allows for the removal of organic surfactants, producing MgO nanocrystals that are well dispersible in methanol.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1501425
JournalScience advances
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2016
Externally publishedYes


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