Photocatalysts and Photoelectrocatalysts in Fuel Cells and Photofuel Cells

  • Prasenjit Bhunia
  • Kingshuk DuttaEmail author
Part of the Environmental Chemistry for a Sustainable World book series (ECSW, volume 36)


The present concern in the energy sector is the very high rate of decrease of the reserves of fossil fuel of our planet. Therefore, the continuously increasing need for reliable energy supply has led to a boost in research and development of alternative energy sources. These alternative energy sources should essentially exhibit ready availability, renewability, sustainability, and environmental friendliness. Two prime examples of such green energy sources are solar energy and energy from readily available fuels (such as waste matter and biomass). This has led to the development of photofuel cells (PFCs), which combine the unique properties of solar cells and fuel cells. In addition, the use of photocatalysts and photoelectrocatalysts in normal fuel cells serves the purpose of trapping solar energy to cause oxidation of the fuel in fuel cells, which in turn results in generation of electrical energy.

This chapter has mainly dealt with fundamental differences between photocatalytic fuel cells (a type of photoelectrochemical cells) and other photoelectrochemical cells. The fundamental aspects and configurations of photocatalytic fuel cells, the mechanism of their operation, and the often employed photocatalysts for the fabrication of photoanodes and photocathodes have been systematically and elaborately discussed. The photocatalytic fuel cells, also called PFCs, photocatalytically degrade organic substances or biomass or water-soluble wastes to produce electricity in spontaneous mode, i.e., ΔG < 0 in the electrolyte. In photoelectrochemical fuel cell, electrical energy gets converted from photon energy without changing the composition of the reduction-oxidation electrolyte or the counter or semiconductor electrode. The major effort of this chapter is to offer necessary knowledge and visualization of the fundamental differences that exist between photocatalytic and photoelectrocatalytic fuel cells to the new researchers in this field, as well as a handy manual to the experienced researchers.


Photocatalysts Photoelectrocatalysts Photofuel cells Fuel cells Photoelectrochemical cells Solar energy Photocathode Photoanode Clean energy Renewable energy 



KD would like to thank the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB) [Department of Science and Technology (DST), Govt. of India] and the Indo-US Science and Technology Forum (IUSSTF) for the Indo-US Postdoctoral Fellowship (Award No. 2017/8-Kingshuk Dutta).


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Chemical EngineeringIndian Institute of TechnologyKharagpurIndia
  2. 2.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  3. 3.Advanced Research School for Technology and Product Simulation (ARSTPS), School for Advanced Research in Polymers (SARP)Central Institute of Plastics Engineering and Technology (CIPET)ChennaiIndia

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