Methanol with 12.5 wt% H2 content is widely considered a liquid hydrogen medium. Taking into account water with 11.1 wt% H2 content, H2 synthesis from the mixture of water and methanol is a promising method for on-demand hydrogen production. We demonstrate an atomic-level catalyst design strategy using the synergy between single atoms and nanodots for H2 production. The PtCu–TiO2 sandwich photocatalyst achieves a remarkable H2 formation rate (2,383.9 µmol h–1) with a high apparent quantum efficiency (99.2%). Furthermore, the oxidation product is a high-value chemical formaldehyde with 98.6% selectivity instead of CO2, leading to a nearly zero-carbon-emission process. Detailed investigations indicate a dual role of the copper atoms: an electron acceptor to facilitate photoelectron transfer to Pt, and a hole acceptor for the selective oxidation of methanol to formaldehyde, thus avoiding over-oxidation to CO2. The synergy between Pt nanodots and Cu single atoms together reduces the activation energy of this process to 13.2 kJ mol–1.
- quantum efficiency
- energy sources