Photocatalytic Hydrogen Generation Coupled to Pollutant Utilization Using Carbon Dots Produced from Biomass
Photocatalysis is deemed as an appealing strategy to exploit solar energy for simultaneous fuel production and pollutant utilization. However, current photocatalytic systems rarely couple both processes and suffer from restricted scalability and sustainability as they use toxic and/or ultraviolet light harvesters, combined with noble-metal co-catalysts under corrosive conditions. Here, we show the synthesis of robust, ultra-scalable and low-cost carbon nanodots from lignocellulosic waste, which when combined with a non-precious Ni-based co-catalyst, use visible light to drive H2 production in untreated river and sea water. Organic pollutants and chloride anions in these untreated media do not only allow unhindered photocatalytic activities, but also function as sacrificial electron donors leading to economical pollutant utilization. This system combines Earth’s most abundant resources (biomass, solar energy, untreated water), and functions at ambient temperature, pressure and physiological pH creating perspectives for simultaneous fuel synthesis and pollutant utilization of sustainable and practical character.