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F. Cotana,

Industrial Engineering Department, University of Perugia Via G. Duranti, 67, Perugia, 06125, Italy

F. Rossi

Industrial Engineering Department, University of Perugia Via G. Duranti, 67, Perugia, 06125, Italy

M. Urbani

Industrial Engineering Department, University of Perugia Via G. Duranti, 67, Perugia, 06125, Italy

This paper deals with an experimental investigation on water photosonolysis for hydrogen production. Water splitting is obtained by superposition of photolysis and sonolysis phenomena (photosonolysis) which are induced by the combined action of sunlight and ultrasounds. An experimental device was realized to investigate such phenomena; experimental tests were carried out: hydrogen production increases linearly with time; besides, hydrogen production dims as pressure increases.

Thus, the proposed method suggests further investigations focused to test improvements on ultrasound-water matching and sunlight catalyst; a new reactor will be designed which is characterized by innovative systems for hydrogen separation.


Hydrogen production by the combined effect of sonolysis (which produce the water cavitation phenomenon) and photolysis was investigated. An experimental facility was realized to test the effect of ultrasounds and sunlight radiation on water. The facility is constituted by a reactor, an ultrasound generation system and a sunlight irradiation system. Sonolysis and photosonolysis experimental tests were carried out. The hydrogen production was verified; the dependence among hydrogen production, time and pressure was found.


Photosonolysis consists on molecular splitting by the combined effect of photolysis and sonolysis phenomena. Sonolysis is produced by mechanical waves which induce cavitation phenomena in the water; photolysis is due to the interaction between the water molecules and the sunlight radiation [1].

Water sonolysis is obtained by piezoelectrical transducers which may produce water splitting by generating mechanical waves with appropriate frequency. Energy is given by ultrasounds transmission in the water test sample; optima pressure and temperature conditions for hydrogen production are locally obtained by the cavitation phenomenon [2].

Water sonochemical reactions steps are the followings:

H2O → H • + OH • (1) H • + H • → H2 (2) OH • + OH • → H2O2 (3) H2O2 →H2O+1⁄2O2 (4) H • + OH • → H2O (5)

Hydrogen and hydrogen peroxide are produced by the dimerization of their radicals (equations (2) and (3)). Hydrogen peroxide is unstable in standard conditions; thus, it splits into water and oxygen.

Ultrasounds are characterized by compression and expansion waves; they induce the acoustic cavitation phenomenon which gives the energy required for reaction (1). An heating process produces steam bubbles which are constituted by air molecules dissolved in the water. Bubbles vibrate quickly when they are mechanically stressed. Vibrations determine bubbles implosion at a 1,4 km/s speed; temperature increases up to 5000 K near the bubble implosion area. This is due to the bump waves produced by the bubbles which cross the other bubbles: an heating effect occurs which furnishes the energy for stripping the electrons from the atoms. Then, they collide, are caught and release the kinetic energy as heat [3].


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