In the view of H2 as the future energy vector, we presented here the development of a homemade photo-reactor working in gas phase and easily interfacing with fuel cell devices, for H2 production by ethanol dehydrogenation. The process generates acetaldehyde as the main co-product, which is more economically advantageous with respect to the low valuable CO2 produced in the alternative pathway of ethanol photoreforming. The materials adopted as photocatalysts are based on TiO2 substrates but properly modified with noble (Au) and not-noble (Cu) metals to enhance light harvesting in the visible region. The samples were characterized by BET surface area analysis, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and UV-Visible Diffusive Reflectance Spectroscopy, and finally tested in our homemade photo-reactor by simulated solar irradiation. We discussed about the benefits of operating in gas phase with respect to a conventional slurry photo-reactor (minimization of scattering phenomena, no metal leaching, easy product recovery, etc.). Results showed that high H2 productivity can be obtained in gas phase conditions, also irradiating titania photocatalysts doped with not-noble metals.
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