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ISRN Chemical Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 964936, 21 pages
Review Article

Hydrogen Production by Photoreforming of Renewable Substrates

Dipartimento di Chimica, Università degli Studi di Milano, INSTM Unit Milano-Università and CNR-ISTM, v. C. Golgi 19, 20133 Milano, Italy

Received 23 September 2012; Accepted 11 October 2012

Academic Editors: C.-T. Hsieh, C. Perego, I. Poulios, and A. M. Seayad

Copyright © 2012 Ilenia Rossetti. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This paper focuses on the application of photocatalysis to hydrogen production from organic substrates. This process, usually called photoreforming, makes use of semiconductors to promote redox reactions, namely, the oxidation of organic molecules and the reduction of H+ to H2. This may be an interesting and fully sustainable way to produce this interesting fuel, provided that materials efficiency becomes sufficient and solar light can be effectively harvested. After a first introduction to the key features of the photoreforming process, the attention will be directed to the needs for materials development correlated to the existing knowledge on reaction mechanisms. Examples are then given on the photoreforming of alcohols, the most studied topic, especially in the case of methanol and carbohydrates. Finally, some examples of more complex but more interesting substrates, such as waste solutions, are proposed.