On the underlying mechanisms of the low observed nitrate selectivity in photocatalytic NOx abatement and the importance of the oxygen reduction reaction

J. Patzsch, A. Folli, D. E. Macphee, J. Z. Bloh

Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys., 19 (2017), 32678-32686 doi:10.1039/C7CP05960D



Semiconductor photocatalysis could be an effective means to combat air pollution, especially nitrogen oxides, which can be mineralized to nitrate. However, the reaction typically shows poor selectivity, releasing a number of unwanted and possibly toxic intermediates such as nitrogen dioxide. Up to now, the underlying principles that lead to this poor selectivity were not understood so a knowledge-based catalyst design for more selective materials was impossible. Herein, we present strong evidence for the slow oxygen reduction being one the causes, as the competing back-reduction of nitrate leads to the release of nitrogen dioxide. Consequently, engineering the photocatalyst for a better oxygen reduction efficiency should also increase the nitrate selectivity.

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