Scalable Conjugated Polymer Photocatalysts for Sustainable Hydrogen Production from Wastewater
"Current methods of producing hydrogen are unsustainable. I am working to create materials that use sunlight to produce hydrogen from wastewater and break down micropollutants."
Rhys Bourhill is a Hydro Nations Scholar and PhD student at the University of Strathclyde in the Department of Pure and Applied Chemistry.
Rhys’ PhD research will focus on developing a range of conjugated organic polymer photocatalysts for the purpose of solar hydrogen production from wastewater. This process also allows for the oxidation of micropollutants. Successful photocatalysts will then be tested as scalable thin films. Using wastewater for photocatalytic water splitting provides multiple advantages over pure water. Wastewater provides an increased yield of hydrogen due to the increased efficiency of oxidising organic micropollutants instead of pure water, as well as the potential to oxidise micropollutants into less harmful products.
This research aims to develop a new solution for sustainable hydrogen production using Scotland’s wastewater resources alongside enabling the removal of environmentally harmful and persistent micropollutants which are typically not fully removed at sewage treatment plants. This makes Scotland’s wastewater a greater energy asset and reduces its detrimental environmental impacts, bringing benefits to communities around Scotland as well as stakeholders.
Prior to joining the Hydro Nation Scholars Programme, Rhys completed a masters MChem in Chemistry at the University of Strathclyde in 2022, achieving a first-class degree and the GSK Prize for best organic chemistry student. Rhys’ masters project also involved the development of conjugated organic polymer photocatalysts for hydrogen production from water, using sustainable biomass to drive hydrogen generation.