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Keywords:

  • hematite Fe2O3;
  • SBA-15;
  • photocatalysis;
  • hydrogen;
  • photoelectrochemistry;
  • visible light

Iron-substituted mesoporous silica, Santa Barbara Amorphous (Fe-SBA-15) molecular sieve with Si/Fe ratio of 50 is prepared by microwave-hydrothermal method. The photoelectrochemistry reveals a metal deficiency and the oxide exhibits P type conductivity with activation energy of 20 meV. The flat band potential, determined from the capacitance measurements, is found to be −0.61 VSCE. Hence, the conduction band, made up of 3d orbital (∼4 eV), permits a good position of H2O/H2 level (−0.88 V/SCE), thus allowing a thermodynamically feasible H2 liberation under visible light. In neutral medium, the photocatalyst shows a high H2 evolution with a rate of 115 μmol g−1 min−1 in presence of SO32− as hole scavenger. The initial performance of the PEC system is restored when the solution is bubbled with nitrogen, a deactivation effect of <2% is observed. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Environ Prog, 33: 141–146, 2014