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Projects. Life and Matter Sciences

Heterogeneous biomimetic catalysts based on functionalized organic-inorganic hybrid networks to produce hydrogen

Lead Researcher: Mª Dolores Esquivel Merino
Research Centre: Instituto de Química Fina y Nanoquímica. Universidad de Córdoba.


Mª Dolores Esquivel MerinoThe great potential of hydrogen as alternative energy source to fossil fuels requires the exploration of new process and technologies to perfom it in a sustainable manner. Among them, the generation of hydrogen from water splitting by solar energy is clearly attractive. The use of water as an abundant raw material in the nature and the solar energy as a source of energy would lead to the production of H2 as a clean and renewable fuel with minimal environmental impact. Based on this need and the excellent activity of [FeFe]-hydrogenase in the light-driven hydrogen production, we propose the design of new artificial biomimetic systems which fulfil these requirements.

The aim of this research project is to synthesize and characterize new heterogeneous catalysts that integrate units that mimic the enzymatic cofactor, based on diiron dithiolate [2Fe2S] complexes, in conjunction with photosensitizing units, based on ruthenium polipyridinic complexes, in an organo-silica network. The resulting hybrid materials will allow, under irradiation, the electron transfer from the photosensitizer to the diiron complex which should then be capable of reducing two protons of the water and, hence, to generate hydrogen. This approach is enormously versatile due to the possibility to design the textural and structural properties of the different materials. Following this strategy, we hope to be able to obtain new artificial biomimetic catalytic systems of great activity, stability and robustness to catalyze the visible light-driven hydrogen reaction.

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